Transforming in a Time of Conforming

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

The pressure! Do you feel it? It’s like a vise. Coming at us from every side. Pressing. Squeezing.

There’s only one way out! The “world” wants us as believers to conform to it’s standard. Melt us into it’s world-view. Blend in and be like everyone else.

Thankfully, Jesus teaches us to be transformed, not to conform. How do we do that?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
— Romans 12:2 ESV

We are transformed by the renewing of our mind. So how do you renew your mind? Through the Word of God. The Word of God is Jesus (the Living Word) and Scripture (the written Word).

First, we must be saved, born again. Being a believer in Jesus is so much more than to “believe” He exists. It’s confessing you’re a sinner, asking Him to forgive your sin and trusting that He will save you. Then you wholeheartedly follow Him. That means not following your own wants and desires, but obediently doing His will.

In today’s society, there are self-help books everywhere! In secular reading and in the Christian realm. To be better, just do this or that. God didn’t save us to be better, He saved us to be a new creation! Hallelujah! And the greatest news about that is that we don’t do that on our own - He does it! Whew! My only responsibility in the process is to surrender to Him and be obedient. He does all the transforming! The results of our transformation are up to Him. Isn’t that great news!?

That leads us to the second step. Surrender. To surrender is to submit to another’s authority. Jesus teaches that we are to die to ourselves and take up our cross - that’s surrender. Putting our own wants and desires aside and obediently following Him. Jesus lived a suffering life on this earth. So when you follow Him, you should expect some suffering.

Think of it this way, if you were to find a precious metal or stone in the earth you would have to heat that metal until all the dross was burned away or chip off all the parts attached to the stone that were not pure. If we think about that in relation to our lives, it is a painful process; often accomplished by suffering.

Part of surrender is obedience. When we submit to authority, we obey the rules, guidelines and laws set before us. The time for kicking and screaming is over. We surrendered so now we are to obey willingly.

God, not your self-effort, is the source of transformation. www.bsfinternational.org

The above quote really spoke to me in my Bible study this week. We have been studying Solomon and his proverbs. The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord. It is Jesus Christ who changes, transforms us. Not self-help books, not sheer will and determination, but Jesus.

If you’ve known me throughout my lifetime, you can easily see the transformation that Jesus has done in my life. Every day He is changing me even more. Sometimes the process is slow and difficult, but as I surrender and am obedient, He proves true in His transformation power!

Will you be transformed today through Jesus? He is always ready to forgive when you confess and ask. He will happily make you a new creation. Just trust Him!

Am I Coming or Going?

Photo by Guillaume Jaillet

Photo by Guillaume Jaillet

My heart’s racing and I’m so behind! I’m hurrying as fast as I can and still can’t get it all done. The house is chaotic, work is overwhelming and there’s no time for family; let alone for myself or God…

Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever feel like you don’t know if you’re coming or going?

It’s so easy to get caught on the hamster wheel, so to speak. Running and running but always staying in the same place. Feeling worn out and, yet, not getting things done. I think sometimes we find ourselves there and have no idea how we got there. Don’t you?

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do when we find ourselves in such a rush that we don’t know if we’re coming or going? I’m glad you asked!

First, stop. Let me say that again, stop... STOP… S. T. O. P.

You have to stop right where you are. It may take a while for you to mentally stop, but do that. Stop both physically and mentally.

Just rest a while. That’s right, rest. Sometimes the feeling of overwhelm comes because we are exhausted. I know that I have been pushing too hard too long when I start to have that feeling of desperation.

Next, shift your focus. Take your focus OFF of the things that are chaotic and overwhelming and put your focus on the ONE who is in control. Jesus has this (whatever “this” is). I have found that when I am focused on my problems, they seem larger than life…larger than God, even. But when I am focuses on Jesus, He is larger than life, certainly larger than any problem I have. And He is, by the way!

Spend time with Jesus. I believe the Bible has about 365 verses that tell us not to fear. That’s one a day. Start spending time EVERY day with Jesus. Read the Bible and listen for Him to speak to you through the Holy Spirit. Pray. Not the just the “gimmie” prayers, but talk with Him. Praise Him for who He is and that He cares for you. Tell Him what’s been on your heart and give those cares to Him. He’s strong enough to take them for you!

Lastly, think on things that are pure, lovely and good. As you stop, rest, shift your focus and spend time with Jesus your thoughts will change; your heart will feel peace (even in a chaotic and overwhelming world).

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8 ESV

So the next time your don’t know if you are coming or going, just go to Jesus and rest at His feet for a while. He’ll lift your burdens and calm your soul.

The Ultimate Love Letter

Photo by Aaron Burden

Photo by Aaron Burden

Does this well-worn Bible remind you of yours or one of your parents or grandparents’ Bible?

Bear with me for a few minutes. Think back to your “sweetheart” days. Remember love letters? How many times did you read a love letter from your sweetheart? I read them until they were totally worn out!

I’m not talking about elementary school love letters, but you can certainly think of those. As children, we read and re-read those cute little letters. But what about those from your sweetheart when one of you were away?

I’m reminded of my parents when I think of love letters. My parents met when my father was in for a brief few days from the Navy during WWII. They courted via letters. All of which were read by military personnel before getting to my mother. Every single letter had some things marked out just in case that phrase could alert the enemy about a particular mission. Anyway, I digress. After a lot of letters and maybe a visit or two, my Mom graduated from high school early in the afternoon, married my Dad that evening and caught a midnight train to start their life together. How romantic!

Hearing that brief story sounds very romantic. But my parents would tell you it was HARD. Worth it, but hard. Just after they got sent up in their new little home, Dad shipped out. My sixteen year old mother was alone. My dad was at war. I can only imagine how important the love letters they share were to them!

I remember my own love letters when I was in high school. I went on a school trip for a week or two. My sweetheart sent me some love letters. By the time I returned home I had nearly memorized them all because I read them so much. (FYI - same sweetheart I married!)

Knowing how much those letters meant, how much more should the “Ultimate Love Letter” mean to us? God wrote an entire book expressing His love for us. We should read it so much we practically have it memorized!

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24 NIV

As I consider what great things the Lord has done for me, I’m in awe of His love, mercy and grace! He loves us unconditionally! His love letter tells us that He loves us just like we are! After all, He made us. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more AND there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. He. Loves. You.

This week, begin again reading the Ultimate Love Letter. Read it and read it some more. Read it until you practically have it memorized! Tell me in the comments below one or ten things that you love most about “The Ultimate Love Letter”.

Content in a World of Discontentment

Photo by Hannah Olinger

Photo by Hannah Olinger

Do you ever find that once you have something you’ve been longing for the contentment that you expected eludes you? Maybe you’ve worked hard to achieve some status or paycheck that you just knew would satisfy you only to gain it and not feel satisfied or content. We all do!

For so long all I could think about was being able to work from home. Three and a half years ago that dream of mine came true. And I am SO GRATEFUL! But I find myself, from time to time, being discontent with it. Now sometimes I think, “If only I were retired”! What! Hold on just a minute! I work from H O M E. Shouldn’t that be enough? Yes, it should. And most of the time, it is. But you get my point, right?

As humans, we all struggle with discontentment at some point. Our goal should be like that of the Apostle Paul who said,

…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Phil 4:11 ESV

Easier said than done! But with Christ we can be content whatever our circumstances. The only way we are going to live in a state of contentment is to trust in Christ. We have to rest in Him.

Yes, there are times, I believe, Jesus causes us to feel an unrest when He is leading us to do something that is out of our comfort zone. But I’m talking about being content with who we are in Christ and with what we have in this world. If you’ve ever watched even one commercial, you know that the world system does not want you to be content.

You may ask, “Why is it important to be content?” My first response to that is an answer I heard often from my Mother. “Because God (Mom would say ‘I’) said so.” And my second response is this, we know that God loves us and wants His best for us. Knowing that and knowing His word teaches us that we should be content, we should want to be content. When we’re content, we can listen for His voice and His will. But when we are discontent, we are so busy trying to get more, be more or do more that we miss His voice and His will and we stay in a state of chaos. As believers, we are to be peacemakers. How can we be peacemakers when our lives are full of chaos from discontentment?

So if we are to live in contentment in a world of discontent, what are we to do?

  • Know you are His

  • Know that He loves you

  • Trust Jesus with today and tomorrow

  • Be obedient to His word and His call

  • Rest in the fact that there is NOTHING you can do to make Jesus love you less or more. You are enough because Jesus saved you.

So from today forward show the world that you CAN and WILL be content in a world of discontentment!