Reconciliation, Sanctification, and Hot Glue

I just completed repairing a table for someone. It was a good time because I like doing things like that. It was a fairly easy project. I just had to drill out the old dowels, sand off the old glue, cut new dowels, re-glue the seams, and clamp it all together. All in all, it was an uneventful project except for what I felt like God was saying to me…

One of the reasons I like doing little projects like this is because I often feel God speak to me during them. Not in an audible way but in my soul. Some of my biggest revelations about God and myself have come from one project or another. For some reason, God chooses to speak to me through my physical actions. Maybe it’s because I am a bit thick in the head and when I am working on something I am a little freer to hear from Him.

As I was sanding off the old glue I was getting pelted with hot glue bits because apparently a Dremel will melt glue and shoot it at you. This is a good tip for the future but as I was being assaulted with hot glue buckshot I understood something about God and myself on a deeper level. In going to the cross Christ took my sin and that sin was costly, and it hurt. It was brutal, and while my hot glue barrage does not compare but it did make me think. He took that pain because I needed that sin removed. In order for me to have the ability to be reconnected, or reconciled, in a proper and fitting way like the table legs the old had to be stripped away and it did not come without a cost. Now I know this because 1 Peter 1:18-19 among other verses tells me this but it is one thing to know it and another to understand it. We always have to remember that it was for our benefit that Christ died. He was perfectly fine before the incarnation, but He desired us. He desired to reconcile us to the Father. It was that desire and the will to carry it out that gives us life. Jesus desired us so much it moved Him to participate in humanity and literally put some skin in the game.

Now the second thing is that it hurts me too. If the wood could speak (and had feelings) it would tell me that this burns and it is painful. It would probably ask me to stop because this process is uncomfortable, however, because I know what it takes to reconnect the legs in a permanent way I persist. It might be painful for a moment, but that moment will pass, and it will be stronger than it ever was before but first, it must undergo destruction of the old. We are being conformed to the image of the Son and don’t think for a second that is not a painful process. Old things from you are being stripped away and torn off. It is painful and that is OK. God is trying to make you fit where you belong. He is trying to make you fulfill your purpose, but you have so much junk on you that cannot stay that way. Sure, He could patch you up and send you along, but He would rather do things the right way. God prefers to sanctify us. Yes, there is an instant part of sanctification but there is also this ongoing process of maturing and setting apart (sanctification).

I know the Bible says that our righteousness is like filthy rags and I agree but God still created you and built you for a purpose. You are handcrafted and on your own, you cannot do it, but He can. You cannot clean yourself up and make yourself fit with Him. He needs to remove all that sin and selfishness, so you fit like you should. Both Christ and we have skin in this process. That is not something that can be understated.

I am so glad that Christ took my sin and I am so sorry that I still fall short and sin. But I know that He has not given up on me. I know He is working to accomplish His good pleasure in me. I know that He has work for me to do that He has predestined for me to do. I know I am not worthy of it and I don’t even know what it is, but I trust Him. Let’s let Him clean us up. Let’s let Him rebuild us into what we were made to be. Yes, it is painful but never forget it hurt Him first.

Just a thought,

Mike

Born to grow

It should be no secret to anyone who reads my little thoughts that the Gospel of John is my favorite book. It should be clear that when I say it is my favorite book I don’t just mean my favorite biblical book either. No, it is my favorite book of all time. Moreover, my favorite part is the prologue section (verses 1-18). There is so much depth, beauty, and theological truth in that one section that it captivates me every time I read it. I will be honest, and I am sure this does not happen to you, but sometimes I have a tendency to read my Bible and skip over things I am familiar with and while this does happen on occasion with John’s prologue I always go back and re-read it carefully because it draws me in.

As I have mentioned elsewhere the main point of this section is verse 12 because it sits right in the middle of the chiastic pattern. The beauty of it is highlighted by John 20:31 where John says that everything that has been written was written so that you might believe Jesus is the Christ and that in believing you might have life. The beauty is that Jesus just wants you to live and to be a child of God.

But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believed in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12-13 (NKJV)

I have been following Christ for a long time now and I am still captivated by this simple idea that God loves me and wants to call me son. He does not have to but He wants to. He does not require me to do something to earn that sonship, He does not force it upon me, and He does not threaten to take it away. He just loves with a passion for me. I cannot escape that simple yet profound truth.

God’s great and wonderful love compels me to be different. Yes, Christ places commands upon me but His love compels me to comply. I do not do things differently because I must but because I desire to please the one I love. I desire to be better because He believes in me. I desire to grow, to live sacrificially, and to mature because the one who loves me sees me that way. The funny thing is that the more I grow and mature the more I realize I am not as good as I previously thought. The more I control my temper the more I realize I have much work to do. The more I give the more I realize I am not as giving as I desire to be. The more I love others the more I realize I do not express it enough. The more I become like Christ the more I realize I am still too Mike.

I catch glimpses of who I am to be but the picture is not clear. I daily confirm what Paul says in 1 Cor 13:12 that I see in dimly in a mirror. My prayer is that of the hymn Come, Jesus, Reign in Me “All foes cast out, let this poor heart Be filled with love divine; Securely fixed, no more to part. From this poor heart of mine.” And to be clear it is not a pressure or a feeling like I am not good enough but a desire to be more like Him who loves me. I desire to be that man. I desire to be that son.

The love of God should change you and if it does not you should question whether or not you understand that love. It would be like saying that you do not desire to be different for your spouse. Not that you have to change for them to want you or love you but because you are in a relationship with them you naturally want to be a better husband or wife. The love that exists between the two of you creates an environment where you can grow. If you do not think you have growing to do then I would suggest there is much growing to do. The relationship you have with God our Father does not only create the environment to allow for change but because the Holy Spirit indwells believers you also have the power to change. God gives us the desire, the environment, and the ability to change. All we need to do is walk it out in humble obedience. Trust me on this, the walk is worth it.

For perfect love I long have groaned,
I would be wholly Thine;
Yes, I would have the Lord enthroned
In this poor heart of mine.

Come, Jesus, reign in me,
My heart Thy throne shall be;
Oh, tarry in Thy throne,
’Tis Thine, and Thine alone.

All foes cast out, let this poor heart
Be filled with love divine;
Securely fixed, no more to part
From this poor heart of mine.

Let perfect love my portion be,
To Thee my all resign;
O Holy One, come dwell in me,
And rule this heart of mine.

No earthly language can express
The love in Christ I find
’Tis boundless and it’s measureless,
In this poor heart of mine.

Come, Jesus, Reign in Me

H.R. Jeffery, 1885

Just a thought,

Mike

 

Itchy Legs & Dead Caterpillars

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Everyone loves the story of the caterpillar. The little thing makes itself a cocoon and then poof it is a beautiful butterfly. You too little boys and girls can turn into what God wants you to be. It is just so lovely.

Of course just like most things that is only the part we see. The other part the part we do not see is the process. The process to go from caterpillar to butterfly is messy and destructive. The caterpillar basically dies. It releases enzymes that completely digest itself. Then it is reborn into a butterfly. For a time in that cocoon there is just butterfly goo. Just ooey gooey ukyness…

In Genesis 17:5 God gives Abram a new name, and while here is a lot that can be said about that. I only want to talk about the process from 12-17.

There are 13 years between Genesis 12 and Genesis 17. In between is the it’s my sister Egypt issue, Lot being captured, Melchizedek, Ishmael, and a host of other trials victories, learning and failings. 13 years between God calling Abram and turning him into Abraham. It took 13 years of ooey gooey ukyness to make an Abraham, and the process was by no means complete.

The New Testament is full of verses talking about dieing to yourself. Two of my favorites are Romans 6:4 and Galatians 2:20 (I even know a song for this one). Even more famous is Jesus teaching that you must pick up and carry your cross daily. The process to become what God wants you to be, to be what He has made you to be is hard, and it is painful.

I remember going through the “process” of going from being a boy to being a young man. There were hormones raging, legs that itched so bad, growing pains, and so on. It was horrible. I could not think straight, could not understand why I kept crying all the time, I could not even as some say. It was horrible but it was something I had to go through in order to become a man.

A walk with God is no different. We have to go through some growing, some changing, some itchy legs. It is a process and it is not an overnight one. It is not something that just happens. Some call it progressive sanctification, some call that heresy, but still say we grow and change. Either way I think we can all agree that you are not who you were before you gave your life over to Jesus. I would assume (and I know that is dangerous) that you have matured. That as Paul says you no longer think as a child. That you have moved on from mothers milk and eat solid food. At least I would hope you do.

Like Abraham you will still make mistakes and that is OK. God knows you are going to fail, He expects it, He sees it. That is a non issue. Failing is part of the process, but so is getting up. Abraham did not have 13 years of successes because there were some heavy failures in there. No he did not have 13 years of success, but what he did have was 13 years of growing. 13 years of maturing. 13 years of itchy legs, crying spells, caterpillar goo, and 13 years of growth.

Today we should stand up and realize that yesterday’s failures and successes have brought you to today. Shake off the dust and keep growing.

Just a thought,

Mike