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More than Beautiful Dust

27 Aug

PigsWallow_PigForumI saw a picture of two pigs (a hog and a sow) in a mudhole.

The hog, with an exasperated expression, turned to the sow and said, “I think I’m having a mud-life crisis.”

In another picture, a huge Daddy hog placed his piggy arm around one of his piglets and pointed to a mudhole.

“Son,” Daddy Hog said with obvious pride, “In a few years, this will all be yours.”

Dr. David Jeremiah tells the story of a conversation between an atheist and God. The atheist challenged God, saying, “I can make a man, just like you say you did.”

“Ok,” says God. “Go for it.”

The atheist thought and said, “OK, first we’ll need some dirt.” 

And God said, “OK … but get your own dirt.” 

LOL!

Now this is going to feel like an odd transition, but stick with me. It’s all about dirt, mud and more.

Psalm 103 is an incredible testimony to the wonders of God’s mercy and grace. God loves His children, forgives their sins, and cares for those who fear Him with great compassion. It is God’s steadfast, eternal love, David said, that continues to sustain and blesses us.

But it was verse 14 that recently spoke to me in a deeper way:

“For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (ESV).

Dust.

In The Message, that verse reads this way:

“He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.”

Mud.

It was hard enough to read that I am dust … but MUD!

God does not forget what we are made of. He remembers He formed us from the dust, dirt and mud of earth (Genesis 2:7; 3:19). He remembers why He shows us such pity, such amazing mercy and grace.

Even the strongest of us have frail bodies, souls and minds compared to His matchless wonder. He understands our misery. God knows we are subject to decay, that we will be buried in the earth from whence we came.

Were it not for God’s great mercy, we would all be destroyed under the wrath we so completely deserve, for there is not one soul who seeks after God (Romans 3:11) without His touch from heaven.

And in His compassion He brings strength to our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

During our short time here on earth, as Christ-followers, we are being transformed.

I had a funny thought today. Yes, we are still dust, but …

As we are sanctified (made holy) with the truth of the Word and the Spirit as our tutor, we are becoming beautiful dust.

And we are destined to be MORE than beautiful dust!

We are becoming like Jesus, and in the final resurrection, our bodies will be changed. Glorified! Just as Jesus, in his resurrected body, retained the scars from His crucifixion (John 20:25, 27), even so our recognizable bodies will be resurrected.

We will receive transformed, “glorified” bodies like His (Philippians 3:20-21).  Our ‘perishable” body will be raised “imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:42, 51-52).

I sometimes forget I am destined for heaven, that I should live for eternity. I know I’m not alone in this forgetfulness. As the poet and author Carl Sandburg wrote (and not even in a theological sense):

“There’s an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.”*

Ouch, right?

God wants me to mount up with wings as an eagle (Isaiah 40:31), but I keep sloshing around in the mud. I forget where I’m heading. But I rejoice God does not.

While I live on earth, I am the recipient of His incredible mercy, forgiveness and grace. And I am thankful this sinful, decaying body will be changed in eternity.

I am destined to be far more than beautiful dust.

 – (Note from Dawn: I know I have changed the imagery several times in this post. One minute I am mud; the next I’m sloshing around in mud. But I hope something, somewhere in this rambling spoke to your heart and encouraged you to live for the Lord today.)

 – *http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/mud.html

Graphic: Pigforum.com/Why-Wallow.html

 

My ‘Popcorn Ceiling’ Life

28 Aug

PopcornCeiling2The first time I ever heard the phrase “popcorn ceiling,” I envisioned pieces of popcorn glued on to a ceiling and wondered why anyone would do that!

I wondered if bugs might eat the ceiling. Wouldn’t it eventually get moldy?

Yes, I’m serious. I had no clue.

Popcorn ceilings are so passe these days, and many people call them ugly. But there are plenty of ways to remove or cover them with boards or styrofoam panels.

It’s messy, but no one has to live with popcorn ceilings anymore!

I feel about a popcorn ceiling about the way I feel about lingering sin in my life.

It’s ugly, messy, and I don’t like it. And I don’t have to live with it.

But lingering sin, just like a popcorn ceiling, isn’t going to go away by itself. 

Lingering sin must be removed.

The Lord wants to remove our sin far from us (Psalm 103:11-12; Isaiah 43:25) through forgiveness in Christ (Ephesians 1:7Hebrews 9:26).

The result? We are beautiful in Him. 

 

When we trust in Christ, repent and confess our sin, God forgives and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9; Psalm 130:3-4). He declares us righteous in Christ and there is no condemnation (Romans 5:1; 8:1). Salvation is the restoration of what God originally intended for us.

Jesus died to forgive and remove our sin. In Him, we have an unblemished record. Jesus perfected for all time those who He has sanctified (Hebrews 10:11-14). We can walk in confidence, knowing we are defined by our relationship with Christ, not our sin. On Judgement Day, we arrive in heaven with no guilt.

Yet we will arrive in heaven with the evidence, or fruit, of the choices we made to live out who we are in Christ.

Our justification at salvation is a one-time work of God; but sanctification is a process, beginning with justification and continuing until the day we pass into eternity.

And that brings me back to my illustration.

The Lord scraped off the messy, ugly “popcorn ceiling” of my life, and He is in the process of creating the beauty of His holiness in me. 

Are you in that process too? How do you know?

– Dawn

 

Sand in My Eyes

30 Aug

What is there about someone falling in front of us that makes us laugh? Oh, we might check to see if they’re injured, but if they’re not hurt, we chuckle or explode into giggles.

Comedians like Dick Van Dyke made pratfall humor famous! (But most of us don’t get paid to humiliate ourselves for a laugh.)

One of my most embarrassing moments was at the Michigan sand dunes. When the wind picked up, blowing sand into SandInMyEyes_LOL_Framedmy eyes, I couldn’t see for a few moments.

Instead of being sensible and standing in place until my vision cleared, I walked forward – mummy-like – toward my friends. Or at least, I thought they were my friends.

I ended up falling over a cement bench, bending forward into something of a somersault. I landed on my rear end. A perfect pratfall.

Friends and others nearby rushed to my side, concerned. But then they started laughing.

“That was great!” one said. (Ha, ha, ha.)

“You did that with such grace,” another added. “We should sign you up for the circus.” (Ha, ha, ha.)

Humiliated, I asked for water to help clear my eyes of remaining sand. My hair and clothes were filled with sand too.

“Maybe we should nickname you ‘Sandy,'” a friend suggested.

I only suffered a few bruises, but the joke lived on for years.

Have you ever noticed that our spiritual eyes can fill up with things that don’t belong there? Believe me, when that happens we can “fall” into embarrassing, even hurtful situations.

I’ve been thinking about spiritual blindness. The Bible speaks of those who do not know the Lord as being “blind” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The famous hymn, “Amazing Grace,” says: “I once was was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” God wants to open unbelievers’ eyes (Acts 26:18).

But it’s not just unbelievers who have a blind-eye issue.

Though their eyes have been opened, God’s children can sometimes live as though they’re blind.

2 Peter 1:3-7 explains some qualities (or virtues) that believers should exhibit in their lives as partakers in the divine nature; these are qualities that will make us useful for the Kingdom of God.

But verse 9 says, “… whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having FORGOTTEN  that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

The “nearsightedness” Peter is talking about may mean that when we lack these virtues in our lives, we can only see earthly things. We aren’t focusing on eternal truths and values. We don’t see the spiritual realities of the unseen world. Our perspective is cloudy. We don’t see far off to our heavenly King. And when we fail to focus on Him and what He has done for us, we act like we are spiritually blind.

What cause did Peter offer for this blindness? He said we “forget” what Jesus did on the cross and in His resurrection to cleanse us from our sins.

We who have the light of Christ need to live in that light … to walk in the light (Ephesians 5:7-9). In other words, we need to remember the cross, remember the power of Jesus’ resurrection. Every single day.

I’ve thought about what kind of “sand” might blind me to the power of the Gospel in my everyday life.

This S-A-N-D includes:

S – Stubbornness and Sinful Habits that get in the way

Stubbornness is a serious offense against God (Jeremiah 7:24). He wants His people to fear Him, love Him, and obey and serve Him completely with a cheerful heart (Deuteronomy 10:12-13; 1 John 5:3).

Also, when we cherish sinful habits or addictions, we exhibit a spirit of rebellion against God. Why should He show us more light, more truth, if we refuse to obey Him? Luke 6:46 challenges us – Why do we call Him “Lord” when we are unwilling to do what He says?

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Bible Commentary says (of 1 Peter 1:9), there may even be “a degree of wilfulness in the blindness” (implied in the Greek) with “closing the eyes.” Sometimes even Christians can rebel against the light shining around them.

A – Attitudes and Affections that don’t please the Lord

1 Peter 1:3-7 lists some of the attitudes we should have as believers. But too many of us display exactly the opposite attitudes: impatience, ungodliness, selfishness, etc. How interesting that Peter says, “… if you practice these things [the positive virtues/attitudes], you will never fall.” (To push my analogy a bit … unlike the sand in the eyes that causes us to stumble, clear vision of what Jesus has done for us encourages a steady walk with God.)

Also, what do we love? Do we love anyone or anything more than God? We must love Him with our entire being (Matthew 22:37-38). He is a “jealous” God – deeply desiring our love and worship (Exodus 34:14), which is entirely His due.

N – Negativity and “Neediness” that hinder progress

If we are an “I’m ag’in it” sort of Christian, always focusing on the negative, it’s hard to move forward into opportunities for ministry. Perhaps our negativity comes from focusing on the splinter in others’ eyes while excusing the log in our own eyes (Matthew 7:3-5).

We all have needs, and the Lord is more than sufficient to meet our needs (Philippians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 12:9), but when we are “needy” in the sense that it’s all about us (only focusing on our needs), our selfishness stunts our usefulness. God wants us to love, encourage and serve others and we are, ultimately, to do it all for Him (Matthew 25:40).

D – Double-mindedness and Deceit that keep us in the dark

A double-minded Christian will be unstable, stumbling around in confusion (James 1:8); cp. Psalm 112:5-8). A single-minded person is stable and established, discerning and mature.

And lying to ourselves is as serious as lying to others (Ephesians 4:25), because it influences our walk with Christ. We must fill our minds and counsel our hearts with God’s truth (an example: Psalm 42:5). We are to walk in truth (Psalm 86:11; 3 John 1:4).

I’m sure there are many other ways Christians can act as though they are blind. 

Can you think of any “sand” that gets in our eyes, impeding our walk in love, truth and wisdom?

– Dawn

 

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