Tag Archives: Change

Something New

Note: As you read this post, you might ask yourself why I am telling you so much about my hair dyeing experiences. Trust me, there’s a purpose and a lesson to follow my seemingly rambling story.

In early July I decided to color my hair with a box of auburn hair dye that had been in my hall closet for about five years. We were on vacation for two weeks but didn’t go anywhere and I was starting to go stir crazy so it seemed like a good thing to do. The dye was more like a bit of highlighting, only slightly changing the color of my hair. A few people noticed but not too many. Within six weeks the color had faded significantly because it was the kind that washes out in 24 shampoos.

Then over Labor Day weekend I decided I wanted to do it again because I liked the slight red hint to my hair color, so I went to the store to get a box of the same dye. Unfortunately, that brand and color were no longer available (it having been five years or more since I bought it). So I selected another shade of red in another brand, though still the non-permanent kind that is supposed to wash out, this time after 28 shampoos. I took it home and dyed my hair the Sunday before Labor Day.

The color change was much more dramatic this time. I really wasn’t sure I liked it at first and was reluctant to go out in public as a redhead. Even my color blind husband could tell it was a very different color when he returned home from a backpacking trip at the end of that week. Many people have noticed and commented on my new hair color, and a number of them have taken to calling me Red. Even now, several weeks and many shampoos after dyeing it, my hair is still strikingly red. Today at church I had someone I barely know come up to me for the express purpose of telling me she really liked my hair color. Because the many comments I’ve gotten have all been positive, the new color is starting to grow on me and I think I will probably re-dye it when it fades.

On my way home from church I was thinking about how many more comments I’ve gotten with this dramatic hair color change then I did when I just highlighted my hair. It occurred to me that these experiences are a great analogy for the Christian life.

Scripture tells us that faith in Christ will change us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV). But sometimes we are afraid of a bold new creation that God has called us to be. Instead, we allow little highlights of the new to show through. The change in us is subtle and noticed by only a few, just like my first experience of dyeing my hair with a subtle red highlight.

But if we allow Christ to truly change us and boldly allow His light to shine through, others will notice, even many people we don’t know well. People may even comment on the change. As Christians, as we see this new creation in others, we should comment on this change and provide them with encouragement. Just as receiving positive comments about my new hair color has made me feel much more comfortable with this change, the new Christian will feel much more comfortable with the changes Christ makes in them if they receive positive encouragement.

The apostle Paul taught us to encourage one another when he wrote, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:11-12 (NIV). Let us, then, mutually encourage one another to let the Light of Christ shine so that others may see the change He has made in our lives. Let us share the great peace and love He has placed in our hearts. Let us never be ashamed of the new creation that we are in Christ, even when the world scoffs at our faith. Just as I have come to appreciate the nickname Red, let us appreciate and rejoice in the name Christian, followers of Christ, His new creation.

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Savior, then Lord – A Sedoka of Sorts

While I was taking a break from blogging I missed a number of Form For All lessons at dVerse Poets Pub, so I decided yesterday to go check out the lessons I had missed to see if there was a new poetry form I could try. Sam Peralta—one of my favorite dVerse teachers—offered a lesson on the Japanese poetry form called the sedoka that consists of two tercets with lines of 5, 7, and 7 syllables each. Sam wrote, “The poem’s two verses usually provide two perspectives on the theme, with a sharp division after the third line, and a soft turn after line five, before the conclusion.” I decided to give it a try with one of my favorite themes.

Savior, then Lord

He died on the cross
Saving the souls of mankind
A free gift of salvation

We accept His gift
But this is not quite enough
For true change He must be Lord

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Prayer Changes Me

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God – it changes me.” C.S. Lewis

One of my blogging friends, Theresa Moore, posted this quote on Facebook the other day and it really stuck with me. C.S. Lewis was such a brilliant man and has such a wonderful way of explaining faith and related matters.

I especially can relate to the last part of the quote: “It doesn’t change God – it changes me.” That is so true. God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But by spending time with Him in prayer I am changed to be more like Him each day. As I pray for the ability to see me as He sees me – both as I am and as He desires me to be – I grow in faith and understanding. I cannot help but be changed by this process.

I have found another thing about prayer. Jesus said that we should pray for our enemies and for those who persecute us. When we do this, our tendency is to pray that God would change them. But prayer seldom changes the difficult people in our lives (though on occasion it can). What prayer for our enemies does is change our attitude towards them. When I earnestly pray for the difficult people in my life, God helps me to see them from His perspective and to understand a little better why they might be the way they are and the root of their difficult behavior.

Prayer doesn’t change my enemies – it changes me. It helps me gain the wisdom and compassion necessary to love them as God has called me to do. And when I love them, perhaps I might help them to change, too.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:19-21 (NIV).

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The Transforming Power of Our Invisible God

I think I mentioned last week that I bought a new (to me) Trevor Morgan CD at the Third Day concert. The name of the CD is Wonderlight and it was released in 2004, but I have been listening to it for the first time all this past week. It is an awesome CD. Trevor’s voice is beautiful and the music is uplifting and encouraging.

I have been wanting to share a few of the songs on the CD, but I couldn’t find any of them on YouTube. Finally on Saturday I decided to see if I could figure out how to make my own video using photos on my computer and the mp3 of one of my favorite songs on the CD that I had ripped to put on my iPod.

(Note: I do almost all of my iPod music that way so that if something happens to the digital file I still have the music on CD and can just rip it again. It’s old school, I know, but I’ve lost music that I had in only digital format before and had to repurchase it, which I did by buying the CD.)

Anyway, I was successful in creating my first music video with pictures and posting it to my YouTube channel. So here it is – it’s a song called Awakening.

Update: Apparently my video said it was pulled from YouTube by WMG if you clicked on the embedded video. So if you want to hear it you’ll have to click on this link and go to YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3k3KH_rLbY. And here are the lyrics (first verse and chorus), which are so awesome.

Waking me from my sleep
Bringing me to my knees
I know it sounds crazy
I know it sounds crazy
Reaching into my soul
Burning me like coals
I know it’s amazing
Yeah, it’s so amazing

I know I’m not the man I used to be
But it’s still a mystery
How something I can’t see is changing me

I love this song because it is a reminder that I am not the person I once was. God has changed me in ways I could never have accomplished on my own. I know because for years I tried and failed.

I can’t see God with my eyes, but I know He is there by the eyes of my heart and by the evidence of what He has done in and through me.

It’s a mystery – I don’t know how it happens – but the living God dwelling in the heart of a believer can turn sinner to saint and wash away the stain of all our sin. The transforming power of our invisible but ever-present God is amazing to see and experience.

If you have not experienced this mystery, if you are still trying (unsuccessfully) to change yourself for the better before you think God will even give you the time of day, take heart. Our God is in the business of befriending sinners and transforming them into His image.

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Make Me Somewhat Better?

Last week I was driving my son to youth group and me to a Board of Elders meeting. We were listening to Third Day’s Revelation CD in the car. The song “This Is Who I Am” came on and my son said something that at first made me laugh, but then it got me thinking.

The chorus to this song says:

This is who I am
This is who I am
So take me and make me something so much more
This is who I am
This is who I am
So change me and make me someone better than before

Now, I’m not completely sure whether my son truly misheard the lyrics or was trying to be funny (because he is known for his off-the-wall sense of humor). Right after the chorus played he said, in his typical 16-year-old sarcastic voice, “Oh that’s a great thing to say. Okay, God, change me but don’t change me too much. Just make me ‘somewhat’ better than before.”

As I said, my first reaction was to laugh. But as I drove home later (my meeting having gone much later than his youth group gathering), I listened to the song again and was a little sad because it occurred to me that many Christians do say that very thing to God. They don’t mind if God changes them a little, but they don’t really want any big changes. They say to God, “Make me somewhat better.”

I think one reason for this is because many people think they are pretty good already. They go to church on Sunday, they don’t steal or cheat, and they’ve never murdered anyone. They think there really isn’t much need for significant improvement. They like the status quo. It’s comfortable and familiar.

But God doesn’t want to just make a few minor adjustments. He doesn’t want to make us just “somewhat” better. He wants to remake us in His image, to be and love like Christ. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV).

In my little town, there is a mix of small older houses and new mansions. We actually have a very large house that was just built across the street from us. There used to be a nice little 968 square foot cottage on that lot, and I’ve often wondered why they didn’t just add onto or remodel that house. After all, that’s what we did with our house; we remodeled and added on. From the street you can hardly tell the house is any bigger or different.

But that’s not what the developer who bought the cottage across the street did. He tore down the cottage and has replaced it with a 5 bedroom, 3 ½ bath house. God is a lot like that developer. He does not want to work in us the equivalent of a small remodel or even an addition. He wants to tear down the old house and build an entirely new one.

So how about you? You know who you are now; are you ready for God to make a complete change? Or are you asking Him to just make you somewhat better? Do you want what He does in you to be barely noticeable from the outside? Or do you want people to wonder whether you are even the same person they used to know?

Oh, and here’s a video of the song by Third Day. If you can’t help but hear the lyrics as “somewhat” instead of “someone,” I apologize. But just maybe it will help you remember what God wants to do with your life and mine.

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Music Monday Extra – One Trick Pony

I love this song by MercyMe. It’s on the same CD as “So Long Self” that I featured in my post this morning. I actually wrote a post based on this song, “One Trick Pony,” last year before I knew how to insert videos or video links into my posts. That post was called “Faith: the Miracle of the Open-Minded.”

One of my favorite lines is, “Call me hard-headed for the One who changed me.” I’ve heard of people who say they were Christians but now they aren’t. I just can’t imagine that. If you truly believe and put all your trust in Jesus, He changes you in such a way that you can never go back to the selfish life you once lived.

The other great thing about this song is that it just makes me want to dance with joy. I hope it makes you want to dance for Jesus, too!

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Easter Is Over. Now What?

Lent is over. Good Friday is history. Easter has come and gone. Now what? If I was one of the original apostles meeting with Jesus after His resurrection, my next move would have been to wait.

Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4-5 (NLT).

But I don’t have to wait for the Holy Spirit. He already dwells in me and has from the moment I believed that Jesus died for my sins and claimed Him as my Savior.

Pondering the journey of Lent, through the agony of seeing Jesus on the cross, and joy of His resurrection, I still have to ask myself, “Now what?” If faith in Christ doesn’t change anything about how I think and live, then what is the point?

And so the answer to the question “Now what?” must be that now I let Him change me to be more like Him. I allow Him to change me to be more loving, more patient, gentler, kinder, less selfish.

I have already allowed Him to change me a great deal, but there is more that He can do in my heart and in how I think. On Good Friday, I nailed my sins to the cross, and Jesus desires for me to leave them there. To His cross I nailed fear, lack of trust, selfishness, anger, and unforgiveness. He desires that I move forward in my life with courage, trust, selflessness, understanding, and forgiveness.

So for me the next step I think needs to be to say, in the words of MercyMe, “So Long Self.”

The first time I heard this song I didn’t completely get it. But the more I spend time in God’s Word and in prayer, the more I express to Him a desire for the cross to really make a difference in my life, the more I understand what this song is all about.

I can’t go through life putting myself first. To be more like Christ, I must put others before myself. Just as Jesus laid down His life for my benefit, I must lay down my life for the benefit of others. This doesn’t mean that I must physically die for others (though some people are certainly called to do so), but it does mean I must set aside the selfish desire to improve only my own life and think of helping others. Sometimes that might mean giving up what society tells me are my rights, and it will often require me to trust that the spiritual blessings God will grant me as a result of my selflessness will far outweigh any material blessings I could gain by putting my desires first.

It will also require me to listen closely to the Holy Spirit and follow His advice and promptings. To truly say “so long” to my selfish nature, I must rely on Christ living in me.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT).

Christ died for me and you so that we may live free of sin and the law. He died so that we might be free to live according to His Spirit living in us.

Lent is over. Good Friday is history. Easter has come and gone. Now what will you do?

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Salvation – A Poem

Last week one of my fellow bloggers commented on my poem titled “Forgiven” that she was thankful for salvation. I immediately knew that I had to write an acrostic poem using this word, because I am also thankful for the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers.

As I started writing this poem, I was reminded of my life before Jesus saved me. My life did not glorify my Creator. Because of my sin, I suffered a great deal of sorrow. It took me a long time to understand the sin behind my sorrow. But I am so thankful that while I was still living in my sinfulness, God offered me love and salvation. Looking back, I can see that the sorrow I experienced was a blessing because it caused me to seek my Savior.

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT).

As I pondered what to include in this poem, I knew I couldn’t just write of the wonder of salvation. I had to also address our need for salvation. We all need a Savior, and Jesus died to fill that need. I also knew I needed to address the change that comes as a result of accepting the gift of salvation. It is a gift that changes the recipient to be more like the Giver.

Salvation

Sin and sorrow overwhelmed me, entangle my soul,
All of my thoughts opposed to God my creator, and then
Love came down from heaven and died on a cross.
Victory over my sin and sorrow, His blood made me whole;
At last I heard the Shepherd and found His sheep pen,
The King has made me clean, removed all the dross.
Imitating my Savior, His loving sacrifice, my new goal,
Opening my mouth I sing His praise, declare my faith, Amen!
Now I am free, His Spirit within assures salvation, not loss.

Do you know the Savior? Have you heard the Shepherd’s voice? Have you accepted the gift of salvation that will wash you clean? If not, what are you waiting for?

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Our Light and Momentary Troubles

Yesterday I was the lay reader for our church, which means I got to read the first two scripture lessons for the day towards the beginning of the service. The second lesson for the day was 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I love these verses because they put this life in perspective. Lately I have been feeling weighed down by my troubles, by changes in my life that I have no control over and expectations that are going to take a lot of energy for me to meet. But Paul tells us that, in view of the resurrection, these troubles are “light and momentary!” Even without the resurrection, the troubles that are before me are not that bad, not as bad as what many are facing.

The Gospel lesson at church yesterday (read by our pastor) portrayed a “trouble” that was much greater than what is before me. We heard the story of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, found in John 11. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, and yet when Jesus heard Lazarus was sick He did not immediately go to heal him. Instead, after Lazarus died, Jesus came to raise him from the dead so that the disciples would believe in a God for whom even death is a “light and momentary trouble.”

What is seen, including our troubles, are temporary. Things change. People come into our lives, and they leave just as quickly. Kids grow up. Pets get sick. Cars break down. Friends move away or just become too busy to keep in touch. We struggle with illness and death, financial reverses and financial gains, job changes, family relationships, and changes in the way we do church. All these things are temporary. To the extent they trouble us, those troubles are light and momentary.

But God, who is unseen, is eternal and unchanging. God was, is, and always will be a God of love and mercy, a God of justice and holiness, a God of grace and truth. For a short time this God was seen. As the Apostle John testified:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. John 1:14, 16-18.

After Jesus made our Holy God known to us, He ascended into Heaven. Now He lives invisibly but powerfully in the hearts of those who put their trust in Him. His Spirit renews us day by day in the knowledge of Jesus’ death and resurrection for our sake. Because of this daily renewal, our troubles are light and momentary indeed!

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I Fear No More

I was looking through one of my old journals today, reading some of the poetry I wrote long ago. Okay, it was in the mid-1990s, so not that long ago, but it seems an eternity. I read this poetry and am simply amazed at how God has changed me and my attitude since then. At that time, and for some time leading up to that, I was filled with fear and worry. I thought I would share some of those old poems. For those of you who know me now or who have read even a small part of this blog, you will see a stark difference between the woman I was and the woman I am now.

Words That Hide

Words are hiding in the ink
deep within my pen

Words are hiding in the dark
deep within my mind

I know they are there
because I see them when I try to sleep
They run around in circles
Playing their word games
And keeping me awake

But when the sun comes up
and I try to write them down
They hide again within my pen
and deep within my mind
In the dark within my mind

I know they want to come out and play
But they are afraid
At night in bed they feel safe
Playing in my mind

What will others think of them
If they play upon a page?
In lines and curves of black
Shining on the glaring white
It seems much safer just to hide
Within my pen
Within my mind
In the dark within my mind

Untitled

The me that no one knows
Writes poetry and prose

The me that people see
Writes briefs in legalese

The me that no one knows
Seeks counseling for my woes

The me that people see
Pretends I’m always pleased

There’s really only one of me
But different sides I reveal
Depending upon the circumstances
Or how I think I should feel

Oh, how God has changed me and taken away my fear! Now I do write poetry and prose on topics of interest to me and do not fear what others will think. Or if I do feel some fear, God gives me the courage to write anyway.

No longer to I pretend all is fine when it is not. But I also now know how to feel joy and happiness as well as sadness when it is warranted. God gave us a whole host of emotions. How I feel is no different from how others feel. The words about how I feel and what I believe no longer hide in my pen or in my mind.

I want to share one other poem that I wrote in 1996 about my son, who was 1 1/2 at the time. It is interesting how much the words I wrote about him then are still applicable today.  It was inspired, as I recall, by the fact that I used to sing him the song “You are my sunshine.”

My Son Shine

His smile is a thousand rays of sunshine
Shining brightly on a rainy day

His laugh is a hundred birds singing
Heralding the beauty of May

His dancing will make you smile and laugh
In its own very silly way

His curiosity rivals that of a hundred cats
You can see it clearly in his play

His temper is a howling hurricane
When he doesn’t get his own way

He is sweet and silly and stubborn and bold
He will be with us always I pray

Well, that’s enough poetry for one day. Maybe I’ll share more some other time.

I am just so grateful that God has given me the courage and strength to write this blog, to share the wonderful things He has done for me and the way He has changed me from the fearful woman I was once was to someone who is bold and ready to face the world with Jesus at my side. If you struggle with fear, cry out to Jesus to help you, to give you courage to be the person He has made you to be. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7.

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