God is in the Renovation Business

renovation2

God is in the renovation business. But you have to do your part.

You have to ask Him for help.

You have to surrender to God, tell Him you need Him to move in your life even more powerfully, that you want to go deeper with Him, that you hunger and crave more of Him in your life, and you refuse to settle for where you are right now. You want more.  And to have more of Him, you know He needs to renovate you.

So you bravely ask Him to reveal the weak areas in your life, those hidden places you’ve been too busy to notice. You ask Him to be the silversmith that heats the silver, revealing the dross, those impurities in your heart, so He can scrape them off and toss them out of your life.

But before He removes them, He lets you see them. All of your bitterness and anger surface and sit there like ugly black chunks beside the bright, hot metal.  God allows you to get a good look at it, to really see it for what it is.

You get more and more uncomfortable the longer He allows it to stay. You want it gone.  You want God to hurry up and dispose of it because it’s painful to see.

He allows it to linger just long enough. This isn’t to hurt you, but to give you the opportunity to see what you’ve kept hidden and what it was doing to you.  You realize, this is a lesson from your Teacher.  You hear Him whisper, “That anger is like a disease in your spirit.”  And when you think about it, you realize it started as a small speck but because you failed to deal with it, it spread like some sort of gangrene, devouring the goodness and purity surrounding it.

And you can’t help but notice the striking contrast:  His blinding, powerful light against the darkness of your hidden sin.

But again, you asked God to draw you closer to Him. This isn’t a task to simply point out your flaws but to point out your need for Him.  He’s the only One who can remove such agonizing and toxic things from your life.

So you take a deep breath, acknowledge what you see and ask for forgiveness and for help. And then you let go.  You let go of the time someone hurt you, the moment you were abandoned, discarded, forgotten, and labeled.  It’s done ugly things to you and holding on isn’t bringing you power over the situation; it’s trapping you in the moment and keeping you a prisoner as the disease spreads and consumes more and more of you.

But again, God is in the renovation business; taking the old, worn, and broken and making it new.

So you focus on Him. You imagine His mighty hand removing all the poison, refining you.  Perhaps you hit your knees, completely falling apart knowing He is about to rebuild.  Or maybe you stand taller, tears streaming down your cheeks as you close your eyes and lift your face heavenward, knowing He is watching you… and smiling.

His renovation has brought you not only closer to Him, but to something He offers:

Freedom.

The ugliness no longer has a hold on you. The memory no longer traps you.  The guilt and shame no longer suffocate your joy.

You are free to walk even closer to God. It’s where He’s wanted you all along.

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” (Psalm 66:10 NIV.)

 

When “Christians” Throw Stones

stone

Have you ever been hurt by a Christian?  Me too.

The truth is Christians are also human.  We’re going to make mistakes.  We’re going to really mess up and hurt people.  And when we do, we need to say we’re sorry.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about those who call themselves “Christians” while lashing out at others, using the title as a form of entitlement to criticize, judge, and sometimes even belittle others.

They sort of remind me of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

They like to put on a good show and brag about their giving and serving.  In anger, they throw Scripture at you like stones when you sin instead of speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  They will show you everything you’re doing wrong in a way that makes you feel so beneath them that you may even wonder if you’re worthy to be loved by God.  Am I good enough? Am I doing enough?   Lord, what’s wrong with me?   

You may start to feel like you don’t belong, even in Church. Maybe especially in Church.

It hurts a lot.  Doesn’t it?

Jesus sees it, and He’s not happy about it either.

Remember when Jesus served His disciples by washing their feet?  Do you think He slammed them for having dirty feet, scrubbed their toes until they bled, or belittled them for not taking better care of their feet?   Of course not.  He lovingly washed them as a servant.  Can you imagine Jesus kneeling at your feet, looking up to you (wow!) as He washes and cares for your feet?

Love.  That’s what that is.

I’m not talking about the kind of love like, “I love French fries at the fair during a warm summer evening.”  I’m talking about the love you give away from your heart when you serve others.  You want nothing in return.  You just want to reflect the kind of love that was reflected in Jesus’ eyes when He was kneeling there washing feet.

How do you love like that?

When you give someone a ride after his car breaks down, when you spend time with those who are lonely or discouraged, or when you send a card to let others know you’re thinking of them.  You love by not only offering to be there for someone but by showing up when the time comes.

You love like Jesus when others fall and you offer to help them up.  You tell them you’re praying for them because you really are praying for them.  And yes, you offer God’s Word to show them that He has so much more for them; He doesn’t want them going the wrong way down a treacherous path of sin that takes them further and further away from Him.  God wants them safe, with Him, right in His arms.  And you want that for them too because you know it is the best place to be.

The place NOT to be is towering over others, pointing an accusatory finger and bashing them verbally.  (Not Christ-like behavior.)

Remember how the Pharisees wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery?  Jesus said, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7 NIV.)

Hmm.  Not a single one of them was able to throw a stone.

What if you were the one in the dirt having those fingers pointing at you?  If you’ve experienced some sort of attack like this, I’d like to say on behalf of all of us imperfect followers following a perfect Jesus Christ:  I’m truly sorry. And, please don’t take it out on God.

You see, God’s the One who led me to write this today so you’d know that just because someone claims to be a Christian, doesn’t always mean they are really doing what God wants.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 7:21 NIV.)

And I believe God also wanted to remind you today that He loves you.  That is why He doesn’t want any of us to continue down a path of sin that will surely trip us up.  Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11b NIV.)

Just remember, you don’t have to be perfect before God will love you.

God already loves you because HE is perfect love.

So focus on that fact, on Jesus dying for you, and the privilege you have to know Him and to love like Him.  Yes, focus on Jesus instead of those who masquerade as His followers clutching a stone in each hand.

And don’t forget to forgive those who’ve already hit you with one.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1 NIV.)