Tag Archives: transforming

Be Strong In The Lord

 

Turning Back or Walking with Jesus?

From: My Utmost For His Highest

Do you also want to go away? —John 6:67

What a penetrating question! Our Lord’s words often hit home for us when He speaks in the simplest way. In spite of the fact that we know who Jesus is, He asks, “Do you also want to go away?” We must continually maintain an adventurous attitude toward Him, despite any potential personal risk.

“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). They turned back from walking with Jesus; not into sin, but away from Him. Many people today are pouring their lives out and working for Jesus Christ, but are not really walking with Him. One thing God constantly requires of us is a oneness with Jesus Christ. After being set apart through sanctification, we should discipline our lives spiritually to maintain this intimate oneness. When God gives you a clear determination of His will for you, all your striving to maintain that relationship by some particular method is completely unnecessary. All that is required is to live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Never try to live your life with God in any other way than His way. And His way means absolute devotion to Him. Showing no concern for the uncertainties that lie ahead is the secret of walking with Jesus.

Peter saw in Jesus only someone who could minister salvation to him and to the world. But our Lord wants us to be fellow laborers with Him.

In John 6:70 Jesus lovingly reminded Peter that he was chosen to go with Him. And each of us must answer this question for ourselves and no one else: “Do you also want to go away?”

Fighting Spiritual Dejection

 


96-year-old bank note

From: Inspire21.com

The following is an actual letter that was sent to a bank by a 96 year-old woman. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in

the New York Times.
—————————-

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored
to pay my plumber last month.  By my calculations, three nanoseconds must
have elapsed between his depositing the check and the arrival in my
account of the funds needed to honor it.  I refer, of course, to the
automatic monthly transfer of funds from my modest savings account, an
arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only thirty-one years.
You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and
also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience
caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused
me to rethink my errant financial ways.  I noticed that whereas I
personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to
contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging,
pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has recently become.  From
now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.
My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be
automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally
and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.
Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person
to open such an envelope.

Please find attached an Application Contact Status form which I require
your chosen employee to complete.  I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but
in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about
me, there is no alternative.  Please note that all copies of his or her
medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the
mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets
and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.  In due course,
I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in
dealings with me.  I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but,
again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me
to access my account balance on your phone bank service.  As they say,
imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Please allow me to level the playing field even further.  When you call
me, you will now have a menu of options on my new voice mail system to
choose from.

Please press the buttons as follows:

To make an appointment to see me.
To query a missing payment.
To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is
required. Password will be communicated to you at a later date to the
Authorized Contact.
To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.
To make a general complaint or inquiry. The contact will then be put on
hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this
may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for
the duration of the call. Regrettably, but again following your example,
I must also levy an establishment fee of $50 to cover the setting up of
this new arrangement.  Please credit my account after each occasion.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client…

(Remember: This was written by a 96 year old woman)

Hats Off to Birthdays

From: Getmorestrength.org.

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12Hey, today’s my birthday! Don’t ask . . . I’m trying not to think about how many candles I’ll have on the cake. But it hasn’t always been like that. There was a time when I loved having birthdays. Turning 5 was really big. I couldn’t wait for the birthdays that qualified me to go to high school, get a driver’s license, and become a legal adult! Back then, people who were 35 seemed ancient.But let’s face it, time marches on. And looking in the mirror, you begin to feel that it’s marching right across your face! The real wake-up call is when you get an invitation in the mail to join the American Association of Retired Persons and to qualify for senior discounts. I hate to sound so grumpy, but to this day I refuse to join the old people’s club or to claim my discounts! 

Yet I’ve come to realize that there is something important about having mile markers in life. They force us to stop long enough to measure where we are in life and to assess the true significance of what we are devoting our time and attention to. When I hit the ancient mark of 35, I remember feeling like a kid who had a five-dollar bill and had spent half of it any way he wanted only to realize that he only had $2.50 left. I figured if I only had half of my life left, I wanted to spend it in wise and fruitful ways. I wanted to minimize my regrets and maximize my opportunities. Things of long-term significance like my wife and kids became more important to me. How I used and where I spent my money took on a greater sense of significance. And the work of Christ through me became a more pressing priority.

Thinking about the work of Jesus reminds me that birthdays also help us to keep in mind that year-by-year we are closer to our final destination. One of the wisest things we can do is to remember that the only thing of true value here is what we do for eternity. Using your time, talents, emotions, energy, and cash for the cause of Jesus on this earth will result in rewarding outcomes in heaven.

Imagine stepping onto the other side and realizing that we have brought nothing with us of eternal worth. Think of looking into the face of Jesus and realizing that the only things we have with us are the wood, hay, and straw of earth-side stuff (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). If we don’t let the markers of life remind us of how close heaven is, we may make the mistake of pouring our lives into the bottomless bucket of stuff that doesn’t really make a difference after all.

Thank God for birthdays! They remind us that life is short and that heaven is near. If you take them seriously, you may just stand a chance of making it home with more than an empty bucket.

Spiritual Dejection

From: My Utmost For His Highest

We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened —Luke 24:21

Every fact that the disciples stated was right, but the conclusions they drew from those facts were wrong. Anything that has even a hint of dejection spiritually is always wrong. If I am depressed or burdened, I am to blame, not God or anyone else. Dejection stems from one of two sources— I have either satisfied a lust or I have not had it satisfied. In either case, dejection is the result. Lust means “I must have it at once.” Spiritual lust causes me to demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Himself who gives the answer. What have I been hoping or trusting God would do? Is today “the third day” and He has still not done what I expected? Am I therefore justified in being dejected and in blaming God? Whenever we insist that God should give us an answer to prayer we are off track. The purpose of prayer is that we get ahold of God, not of the answer. It is impossible to be well physically and to be dejected, because dejection is a sign of sickness. This is also true spiritually. Dejection spiritually is wrong, and we are always to blame for it.

We look for visions from heaven and for earth-shaking events to see God’s power. Even the fact that we are dejected is proof that we do this. Yet we never realize that all the time God is at work in our everyday events and in the people around us. If we will only obey, and do the task that He has placed closest to us, we will see Him. One of the most amazing revelations of God comes to us when we learn that it is in the everyday things of life that we realize the magnificent deity of Jesus Christ.

Transformed By Beholding

 

Transformed by Beholding

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image . . . —2 Corinthians 3:18
The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it— something good, but not what is best. The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God. Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside. The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God. We must maintain a position of beholding Him, keeping our lives completely spiritual through and through. Let other things come and go as they will; let other people criticize us as they will; but never allow anything to obscure the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it. The most difficult lesson of the Christian life is learning how to continue “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord . . . .”
 

The People Principle

“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 15:31-32 I didn’t mean to break it! In fact, just the night before, as our hosts for the evening were showing my wife Martie and me around their beautiful home, they drew our attention to a gorgeous bowl of alabaster fruit. They talked about how valuable it was to them, not only because of its beauty and rarity, but also because of the memories that were associated with the piece. Which made my klutzy moment early the next morning all the more distressing. In my pre-coffee fog, I walked by the table and knocked the alabaster banana to the floor, breaking it in half. Immediately, the dark side of my fallen heart began to think how I could get out of this jam. It was a clean break, and perhaps if I put it back into the bowl carefully the two halves would look like their original form. Weeks later when they would discover the broken banana, they would no doubt blame it on their kids, and we would be long gone. In the end, the bright side of my redeemed heart prevailed and I apologetically admitted, “I hate to tell you this, but I knocked your alabaster banana on the floor and it cracked in half.” I’ll never forget my friend’s reply. “That’s all right, Joe, in our home people are more important than things.” I was spared, but more importantly I was taught a great lesson. In fact, that is exactly how God feels! With Him, people and their needs have always trumped everything else. Jesus made this very clear in His teachings and actions, but perhaps most profoundly in the familiar story of the prodigal son. When He told the story, He was surrounded by tax collectors, women of ill repute, and various other “sinners.” On the fringes of this crowd of outcasts, the Pharisees and teachers of the law stood muttering and grumbling about Christ’s apparent penchant for the unsavory characters of their day. So Jesus proceeded to tell these stories highlighting a lost sheep, a lost coin, and then a lost son. Each parable focuses intently on the passion God has for people as He actively seeks after us and then rejoices when, at last, we turn to Him and are found. Pointing directly at the Pharisees with His words, the parable of the lost son concludes with the spotlight turned on a disgruntled older brother who is hung up on the “things” that have been lost—the family reputation, dignity, and most likely a sizable portion of the family inheritance. Viewed from his perspective, the father’s expenditures on a wayward son are wasteful and even unfair. But Jesus, reflecting the heart of His Father in the closing words of the parable, points out that in God’s household people matter most. Not just “cleaned-up” people. Not just “churchy” people. But people who desperately need to hear that God loves them enough to forgive them of their sin, free them of their addictions, and find them at their point of darkest need. People matter most. So when we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we have to ask ourselves: What matters most in our lives? Our possessions? Our personal preferences? Our perspectives on how people should act and think? Our plans? Our personal pride and reputation? Our rules? Or do the needs and nurture of people matter most? My friend with the alabaster bowl got it right—people matter most. And Jesus has shown us the way!

14-year-old dog abbey

From: Inspire21.com

Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month. The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words: Dear God, Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her. Love, Meredith We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had. Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies.’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note: Dear Meredith, Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away. Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by. Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I’m easy to find. I am wherever there is love.

a grateful whale

From: Inspire21

On the front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday, Dec 15, 2005, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. The fifty-foot whale was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her her tail, her torso and a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her – a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around – she thanked them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.

the butterfly

Inspire21.com

When he was a small boy, he had loved butterflies. Oh, not to net and mount them, but to wonder at their designs and habits. Now a grown man with his first son to be born in a few weeks, he found himself once again fascinated with a cocoon. He had found it at the side of the park path. Somehow the twig had been knocked from the tree and the cocoon had survived undamaged and still woven to the branch. As he had seen his mother do, he gently protected it by wrapping it in his handkerchief and carried it home. The cocoon found a temporary home in a wide-top mason jar with holes in the lid. The jar was placed on the mantle for easy viewing and protection from their curious cat who would delight in volleying the sticky silk between her paws. The man watched. His wife’s interest lasted only a moment, but he studied the silky envelope. Almost imperceptibly at first, the cocoon moved. He watched more closely and soon the cocoon was trembling with activity. Nothing else happened. The cocoon remained tightly glued to the twig and there was no sign of wings. Finally the shaking became so intense, the man thought the butterfly would die from the struggle. He removed the lid on the jar, took a sharp pen knife from his desk drawer, and carefully made a tiny slit in the side of the cocoon. Almost immediately, one wing appeared and then outstretched the other. The butterfly was free! It seemed to enjoy its freedom and walked along the edge of the mason jar and along the edge of the mantle. But it didn’t fly. At first the man thought the wings needed time to dry, but time passed and still the butterfly did not take off. The man was worried and called up his neighbor who taught high school science. He told the neighbor how he had found the cocoon, placed it in the mason jar, and the terrible trembling as the butterfly struggled to get out. When he described how he had carefully made a small slit in the cocoon, the teacher stopped him. “Oh, that is the reason. You see, the struggle is what gives the butterfly the strength to fly.”