Tag Archives: New Creation

I Once Knew a Woman – A Poem

In my Bible Study Fellowship group leaders meeting this morning, I answered a question and my friend Ginger (who is going to the Faith and Culture Writers Conference with me this weekend) said, “There’s a poem in that.” She was right; and here it is.

Interestingly, as so often happens when I am open to what God is saying to me, part of this poem was already being written in my mind starting yesterday. I’ve been pondering fear and how I sometimes still let fear—of what I don’t know—hold me back from taking hold of the dreams God has placed in my heart. I really feel like this weekend and the conference I’m attending are His way of finally and completely crushing the fear that has so often crushed me.

I Once Knew a Woman

I once knew a woman
riddled with fear
crushing fear
made her greatly insecure

Pain and loneliness
were her constant cry
hopeless cry
made her want to die

I once knew a woman
whose dreams lay dormant
sadly dormant
her fear their deterrent

Despair and hopelessness
were her inward cry
lonely cry
made her want to die

I once knew this woman
and she was me
a lost me
But new life I see

Hope and mercy found in Christ
bring dreams alive
no fear survives
makes my soul thrive

I once knew a woman
but she no longer lives
she died and I live
because I learned He forgives

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Hope of Things New – A Poem

Innocence lost
can never be restored

Trust broken
is forever destroyed

Zuzu’s petals
cannot be pasted

Hope shattered
remains in tiny pieces

Cake once eaten
can never be made whole

With you and me
restoration is impossible

But with God
all things are possible
all things can be made new
all things will be used for our good

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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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A Glimpse – A Poem

Yesterday on my way to work I was pondering a poem inspired by my new Trevor Morgan CD. I jotted down part of it on a piece of paper planning to finish and post it later.

As I was leaving work I started thinking about the fact that today was Thankful Thursday and that I needed to write a poem to post. As I walked out into the sunshine I smiled that I have so much to be thankful for. But I needed to narrow it down for a Thankful Thursday poem.

Then I realized that the poem I had jotted down earlier in the day was perfect! It’s about the change God has made in my heart, and that is definitely something I’m thankful for. So when I got home from work I finished the poem and here it is.

A Glimpse

I catch a glimpse
of who I was
who I used to be

A stranger now
but still so close
lurking inside of me

The invisible God
has been changing me
into someone new

When it happened
I do not know
I only know it’s true

The stranger inside
my sinful self
desires to rise again

Such misery
I can’t allow
so I hold fast to God

The new creation
God has made of me
is all I desire to be

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NIV).

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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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The Bride of Christ Made New

In church on Sunday our pastor, Pr. Gary Englert, told a story that really touched me and got me thinking. I decided I wanted to post both my retelling of the story and the thoughts I had on it. After church I asked if he had come up with the story on his own or had borrowed it. He said he had first read it in Vital holiness: A theology of Christian experience : interpreting the historic Wesleyan message by Delbert R. Rose. I have not read this book, but it sounds like a good one. Pr. Gary said that Rose was able to tell this whole story in a single paragraph, but I like his somewhat embellished version better.

The story is of a great King who ruled over a large and wonderful kingdom. He was a good and fair King, loved, feared, and respected by his subjects throughout the kingdom. The King had a Son, who was also loved by the people. He was a good, courageous, and loyal Prince.

In one of the many cities of this kingdom was a woman who lived in the gutter. She had lived in the gutter for a very long time, and had not bathed or changed her clothes in what seemed like forever. Most people walked by her without a second glance.

One day, the Prince went traveling throughout the kingdom. He took a large entourage with him of servants, knights, and people of his court. They traveled to the city where the woman lived in the gutter. As they proceeded down the very street where the woman lay in the gutter, and came to the place where she was, the Prince ordered that the entourage stop. He got out of his carriage, approached the woman in the gutter, and kneeled before her. He spoke gently to her, “I love you and I want you to come with me and be my wife.” The woman was surprised by the Prince’s offer, but accepted.

The Prince then told the woman that he was sending her back to the palace with his servants and attendants, and that they would prepare her for their wedding day. Over the next few months, the kingdom, and especially the palace, was busy with the wedding preparations. The day of the wedding arrived, but the woman was not there. The Prince ordered that a search be made for her and that she be brought to the wedding banquet.

After much searching, the woman was finally found in her room. The servants and attendants were all around her with soaps, perfumes, and her beautiful wedding dress. But the woman sat upon the bed still dressed in the clothes she had been wearing when the Prince found her in the gutter, with the filth and smell of the gutter still upon her. When asked why she was still dressed that way, why she had not allowed the Prince’s attendants to clean her up and dress her in the finest white wedding dress, she replied, “He loved me this way when he found me, and he will love me this way when we are wed.”

In case you haven’t guessed, the King is our heavenly Father, the Prince is our Savior Jesus, and the woman in the gutter is you and me. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul clearly states our position in the gutter before we knew Christ:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NLT).

But even though we lived in sin, Jesus came to us, humbled Himself before us on the cross, and professed His great love. He called us to Himself, to be His beautiful bride. Although He loved us when we were in the gutter, He wants so much more for us. He wants to makes us a new creation clothed in the most beautiful white robes of salvation. We are saved when we first accept His invitation, and then begins the process by which He changes us into His likeness, washing away each speck of dirt and sin with His precious blood. He is preparing us for the wedding day when we will be joined forever with Him in His heavenly kingdom.

As I listened to Pr. Gary’s message and this story, a few questions came to mind. Have you accepted Jesus’ astounding offer of salvation? Do you realize how amazing it is that He would make such an offer? Can you imagine an earthly Prince seeking the hand of a woman living in the gutter?

If you have accepted the offer, have you allowed His attendants, His Holy Spirit, to make you a new and beautiful creation in preparation for your wedding as the bride of Christ? Or are you sitting on the bed in your new-found room, still wearing  your gutter clothes, insisting that if He loved you this way at first He will love you this way always? Have you allowed Him to change you for the better, or are you sure you are just fine the way you are? Are you allowing Him to wash you clean with His precious blood, or are you clinging to your sins?

So often we want to hold onto the gutter clothes we have become accustomed to for so long, not comprehending that the wedding clothes provided by the Prince of Peace are so much better. But if we want to enjoy the eternal wedding feast, we must allow Christ to clothe us in His righteousness. We must allow Him to change us. No one who is not properly dressed will be allowed to remain at the wedding banquet. In the parable of the great feast, Jesus said:

“But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:11-14 (NLT).

So are you allowing Christ to prepare you for the feast of an eternal lifetime? Or are you clinging to who you were when He found you, hoping He will let you in anyway?

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An Ambassador for Christ

We heard a great sermon today from our new interim pastor, Pr. Gary Englert, based on 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I’ve read this passage before, more than once, but Pr. Gary brought out some aspects of it in a way I hadn’t thought of before. His final point is that as Christians we are all ambassadors for Christ. We are called to share the Good News and to bring the message of reconciliation and forgiveness to others.

But before he got to this point, he talked about how we get to be ambassadors in the first place. First, we must recognize within ourselves our own sinfulness and need to be reconciled with God. Sin separates us from God, but the holy creator of the universe came to die for our sins so that we could be reconciled with Him. He did this because in spite of our sinfulness He loves us.

Once we have accepted Christ’s loving act of reconciliation, this love “compels us” to live for Him. Pr. Gary looked at the meaning of the Greek word that is translated “compel” in the NIV and “controls” in the NASB. He likened it to a cattle shoot that is used to corral a cow so that the farmer can give it shots. We are pressed in by His love and have no choice but to share it. 

We now belong to Him. We are a new creation and God no longer holds our sins against us. One minute we are sinners, the next minute Christ says “you are my ambassador.” From sinner to ambassador for the creator of the universe is quite a promotion; but who better to spread the awesome news of reconciliation and forgiveness than those who have understood the need to be reconciled and forgiven, and have accepted Christ’s offer to fill that need?

Think you aren’t qualified to be an ambassador for Christ? Think again. As Pr. Gary said, it’s not usually a good idea to question the God of the universe. Christ sent us out to spread His Good News.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20.

The only qualification necessary is to belong to Christ. As you go, He will be with you through the power of His Holy Spirit. The Good News of reconciliation and forgiveness are what our world needs most. Christians are the designated messengers and representatives of Christ on earth. As Paul implored, “be reconciled to God” and share that reconciliation with others.

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