Construction Zone: Remodeling

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Remodeling.

A word that strikes fear and dread in many.

The closest I’ve ever come to remodeling was having our deck replaced. The constant pounding and sawing outside my kitchen window was overwhelming, but at least it wasn’t sawdust and noise and workers inside my house every day. Nevertheless I chose escape. I loaded up my writing work each morning for weeks and headed off to my other office: Panera Bread. After nearly a month my deck was finished, I’d gotten my writing project completed, and I had a new family, my Panera family. Love you Nola, Tyler, Taylor and Debbie!

God is constantly remodeling our lives. From the moment we turn to Him as our Savior, He actually starts rescuing and remaking us. Rescuing us from our selfish sinful nature and remaking our inner woman. As with physical remodeling, this spiritual remodeling is time-consuming and painful. It is ongoing throughout our life. It can be a process from which we wish to escape. But if we stick with Him and trust Him we will find a brand new us in the end.

Tearing out old sins and habits takes time and effort. Patching up the wounds and hurts from the past is necessary. Finding the faulty wiring built on old lies is crucial. Our Father does this process over time for the health of our spiritual and emotional lives. He digs in places where we would rather not have Him dig. He cleans out closets of things we would rather not turn loose of. We are sometimes left feeling stripped bare of the paint and cosmetic trappings the we have hidden behind for so long.

So how do we embrace this constant remodeling throughout our lives without seeking escape?

  1. Accept that this remodeling will come from time to time throughout your life.
  2. Remind yourself that you have the Master Architect working on you.
  3. Trust that He loves and adores you, and that is why He has chosen to update and improve the rotten, warped, and worn out places in your heart and soul.
  4. He is remaking us for His glory and for our good. We may not like going through the process, but we will love the renovation when it’s over. We will see that it really was for our good, and we will be thankful for the improvements.

As you face struggles this week that seem to tear out those old timbers, be grateful that he is remaking you into a beautiful structure for His glory! Pray and seek His face when you don’t understand. Stay in His Word. And most of all, Trust Him.

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He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

Construction Zone: Needed Repairs

As we continue our Construction Zone series, it’s time to take a look at something we all need at one time or another – Repairs.

Repairs to a home are often costly and time-consuming. We can’t believe the heat pump is already 10-years-old and out from under warranty. We wish we had paid a little more up front to have better quality flooring that wouldn’t have gotten marred so easily. We blame ourselves for the problem, if only we’d taken time to do some touch-up paint then maybe that wood wouldn’t have rotted.

board-broken-brown-2273477Likewise, needed repairs will come to our spiritual life. We can’t believe we slid down the slippery slope of sin so easily and got ourselves and those around us in a fix. We wish we had invested more in our faith, because at the moment we feel broken and messed up. If only we had taken time to go to church weekly, to pray daily, and to keep our spiritual life in repair.

I have good news. Your life can be repaired! That catastrophe is not impossible for God to fix. We serve a God of second (and third and fourth,…) chances. He’s the perfect Father who never tires of drawing us back to him as we toddle off into sin thinking we know best. Nothing is too grievous to forgive. Nothing is the final straw against us. As long as we have breath in our lungs we can call out to Him to repair our souls and our lives. All we have to do is make the call.

Seriously, all we have to do is to call out to Him in prayer.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

The call to the “repairman” is in. Now the work begins. Scripture tells us

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

builder-carpenter-close-up-1251176This is where Christ comes in and tears out the old and puts in the new. Demolition and remodeling can be a longterm and often uncomfortable project. Allowing Him to remove the old rotten sinful boards that make up our spiritual house is necessary but painful. We apprentice Him in this venture; we work alongside Him helping to pull out the ruined parts and replace them with new, God-ordained habits and choices and plans.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

adult-blur-close-up-1260312The process continues by taking in scripture daily to teach us to make new choices, to rebuke us when we sin, to correct us and get us back on course, and to train us in righteous living. When we seek Him through prayer and reading of His Word our life begins to be repaired and we become equipped, made usable for the task He has put before us.

If today, you find your spiritual house in shambles, your life teetering on the brink of utter devastation, turn to Him. Call on Him to repair the rotten places. Allow Him to mend the old and make it new. Choose to work side-by-side with Your Creator to remake your spiritual house based on the Word of God.

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Construction Zone: Doors

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9 ESV

Wouldn’t it be strange to walk up to a house being built and find it has no door?

I recall a history field trip with my children to a re-creation of an Indian village in Alabama. As we did the walking tour, we approached a walled structure that seemed to have no door. The kids were quite puzzled, and I myself was unfamiliar with this kind of construction and not really sure what to do. It was a circular structure made of straight tree trunks standing side by side to make a near-perfect wall. The trunks were 10-12 feet tall, each sharpened to a point making them look as if a giant had planted all his pencils in the ground eraser end down. As we circled around the wall we finally came upon a way in. The design was ingenious. The circular wall spiraled inside itself so that there was no actual closing door, yet it was very secure since it was close to impossible to know where the entrance was without intense searching.

Doors into structures are important. Open doors specifically. A closed and locked door offers no help to those seeking to gain entrance. An open portal allows entry. And what is more welcoming than an unlocked door?

I will never forget my grandmama’s house. She never, ever locked her door.  In fact, the tarnished old skeleton key stayed in the door all the time just in case she ever needed to leave for a long time and lock the house – and by long, I mean weeks. I’ve gone to her house many times and walked right in with a “Yoo-hoo! We’re here!” Sometimes I’d get a response from back in the kitchen, but other times I’d search for her like a grown-up game of hide-and-seek only to find her out back in her garden with an apron full of garden vegetables. Still other times I’d search house and yard only to determine she wasn’t home, and then I’d leave her a little note telling her I’d dropped by. Those welcoming, unlocked doors were just as important as any locked door ever has been.

Locked doors keep things out.

Unlocked doors allow entrance.

abbey-arcade-arch-157391Have we gotten so used to locking our physical doors in life that we have begun to lock out others from our lives in relational, emotional, spiritual ways as well? Has technology created distance in relationships or enabled us to retreat from others and become like hermit crabs, safe in our shell and all to ourselves? Research is telling us that this i-phone generation is among the loneliest in recorded history. They have many online “friends” and “followers,” but socialize face-to-face more rarely than any generation before. Consequently, depression, suicide, and broken families are on the increase.

As children of God, we are called to be His ambassadors – His liaisons to this lonely, hurting world. How does that tie in with our focus this year on constructing our homes and lives in a way that pleases our heavenly Father? Today, let’s examine the access we allow others to our lives and how God might view our behaviors.

architecture-door-exterior-162057Jesus said, “I am the door.” As “little Christs” we are to be little doors as well. Doors that open to reveal the heart and home of Christ to the world. Doors that open and welcome others. Not self-protective doors locking out the “evil” world.

I must ask myself, is my life and home a portal through which others can come to meet the Christ? Is your life an open door?

Think through these questions honestly and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you.

» Do you react to others receptively? Lovingly? Openly? Willing to help?

» Do you regularly invite people into your life to listen to them, encourage them, and pray for them?

» Do you invest in the lives of other women?

» Do you regularly share Jesus with people the Holy Spirit brings across your path?

» Does your home and life say to others, “Come,” and point them to Jesus?

– OR –

» Do you find yourself mainly secluded in your own home and family life?

» Do you socialize, but not broach spiritual discussions nor pray for those you encounter who need Jesus?

» Are you fearful of certain types of people? Do you allow this to keep you from being an open door to them?

If the Holy Spirit has spoken to you through this little evaluation, take a moment to journal a prayer to your Father. Your construction assignment this week as you work to build your spiritual home: Make sure you put a door in. Anything else would be unnatural. Humble yourself to be willing and obedient. Be that open door that invites others to Christ in word and deed.

 

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Construction Zone: Thermometer or Thermostat?

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Matthew 22:37

When building a home in the sunny South, a great Central HVAC unit is ultra important. Folks in our state sometimes die from heatstroke in the summer or from exposure to the extreme cold in winter. So air conditioning and heating are more than a luxury and are just short of being a necessity.

Years ago I heard the analogy that people are either like thermostats or thermometers. Thermometers simply measure temperature. They are gauges that display what the current temperature is. They do not affect the temperature or change it. Thermostats on the other hand are change agents. They are the devices that regulate the temperature within your home, office, school, or car. They cause your heat or air conditioning unit to come on when the house is too hot or too cold. As an Alabama girl, I must note that thermomstats are my favorite modern convenience on a humid, 97 degree summer day.

So if people are either thermometers or thermostats, which are you?

We have probably acted as both at some point in our lives. I tend to get stuck being the thermometer and telling everyone “its too hot in here” without doing anything about it. Our society has enough thermometers at the moment. We need some thermostats who will activate and bring change for the better.

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Think with me for a moment.

In our day we find the world to be polarized. It is as if people around us are just waiting for us to speak one wrong word or turn a phrase in the wrong way so that they may react and unleash some of their inner turmoil and anger. Sometimes, we are the ones waiting to jump on the person next to us. At other times we are blind-sided by venom spewed our way over an innocent comment. Our social media postings become 4th of July fireworks shows within seconds, and I’m sure many of you, like me, have found yourself deleting a post because it ignited such fireworks. Even typing this blog I find myself second-guessing and praying that my words are taken well.

As Children of God we are called to be peacemakers. Romans 12:18 instructs us

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 

And John 13:35 reminds us of how the world will recognize us as God’s people.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

In fact, to even be called Children of God we must be peacemakers.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9 NIV.

And our peacemaking will not be useless, although I imagine it will feel that way at times. But we don’t trust our feelings. We obey scriptural mandates and leave the rest to our Abba. In His word He tells us

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18

So how can we live in this world as peacemakers? How is this practically accomplished in everyday life? As we build our spiritual houses, how can we express our beliefs, stand firm for what is right, and be agents of change in the world while at the same time being peacemakers instead of firecrackers?

It boils down to a simple New Testament mandate of Jesus:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Matthew 22:37

The 2 greatest comandments, which sum up all of the Old Testament commandments:

  1. Love God.
  2. Love Others.

Simple. Yet not easy.

How do we love God?

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) Just as a tiny baby learns to love as they grow and develop under the loving care of their parents, we learn to love from Our Father. We spend time with Him absorbing His character. We dig into his word every day to learn how to love well by 1) obeying His written commands, 2) examining the scriptural example of how Jesus lived on this earth, and 3) letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly and teach us God’s love. (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 3:16-19) God IS love. The more we allow Him to permeate our hearts and teach and strengthen and grow us, the more we will learn of love: love for God and love for others.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:16-21 NIV

How do we love others?

We get to know those different from us. We engage in open discussion, actively listening to try to understand, not just waiting to respond from our point of view. We stamp out that fear within our hearts of the new and the unknown – because perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) We allow the compassion of Christ to permeate our hearts so that we overflow with love, grace, mercy and truth spoken kindly to ALL those we encounter. We give up the “us and them” mentality and view every man, woman and child as an image-bearer of Christ, no matter where they come from, what they look like, what political affiliation they hold dear, or whether they are like us or not. In short, we

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phiippians 2:3-4 NIV

This is a high calling. It is much more easily said than lived out. It takes forbearance, patience, and restraint of our tongue (or fingers on the keyboard!). It will take the power of Christ to calm our self-centered hearts and strengthen us to live this way daily. But we CAN do it. Are we going to be satisifed being only a thermometer who spits out info on the temperature of the world around us, or will we allow Our Creator to make us into thermostats that bring His cool, refreshing winds of mercy, peace, love, grace, and truth to the scorching heat of the society in which we live?

Let us learn from each other. If you would, respond in the comments and share practical ways you are building your spiritual house, ways you live out the mandate to “Love God and Love Others” in your daily life.

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Construction Zone: Building Inspector

Accountability.

A buzzword that we give lip service to. But do we allow others into our lives to hold us accountable? Could not having accountability open the door for sin to creep in and flourish in our lives? I didn’t find the word “accountability” in the Bible, but the concept is mentioned in Hebrews 10:24-25 where it says

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

And why is that so important?

If you haven’t figured that out in your own life, I’ll tell you from my point of reference. We humans can lie to ourselves. We excuse ourselves. We trivialize the known sin in our life. We play the victim and blame others for our choice to sin. And we’re lazy – we just don’t bother to do the good we know to do, and that is sin. (James 4:17)

how-much-building-inspections-costWe don’t need to be lone rangers only doing self-evaluation. We need each other. We need encouragement, accountability, and open honesty with a few whole-hearted believers to keep each other walking in righteousness and to offer correction and help when we step off into sin. We need a building inspector to come through our spiritual house we’re building and call us out on it when things are not up to code. A building inspector keeps the builder accountable.

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Think with me for a moment about King David, a man after God’s own heart. We know of many noble, godly, victory-filled moments from his life. But we also know of his great failure: his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. Let’s look at that moment of weakness and failure.

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite. “Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant. So, David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. …David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” … In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” 2 Samuel 11:1-5, 10, 14-15

What are the simple lessons we can draw from his experience?

First, David set himself up for disaster by not being where he was supposed to be.Kings were supposed to lead their army into battle. This particular spring David did not do that. We don’t know why. Often in my life when I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing it’s because of pride or laziness. I either think I’m “all that” and don’t have to do what I should be doing (which a king could easily think) or else I’m just being self-indulgent and irresponsible (also a likely temptation for a king with many servants).

Second, David took a second look.Sometimes we can’t help seeing a temptation. Satan throws them in front of us to trip us up. Are we wise enough to look away? First David saw her. A temptation. Simple. But then, it says “The woman was very beautiful.” At this point he had to have taken another longer look to determine her beauty. The temptation was not sin, but this second was. I think David did become wise to this after the fact, because in Psalm 119:37, David is believed to have penned these words:

Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

David had learned that his spiritual life hung in the balance when he deliberately chose to take that second look.

The third step in the process – David’s sin went from looking to speaking to acting. After the 2nd look, he asked about who she was and then went on to send messengers and have her brought to him. The sin moved from sinful thoughts to sinful words and then sinful actions. And David’s choice to sin caused Bathsheba to sin as well. Often, our sin rubs off on those around us.

How did this happen?

The fourth thing we observe is that David had not surrounded himself with godly truth speakers.His servants knew what he was doing but didn’t speak. Joab knew of the murder plot and didn’t speak. Why had the king’s advisors not spoken up in the beginning when he chose not to go to war with his army? We don’t know. We do know that at other times in his life he was surrounded by men who offered Godly counsel. Had the king become so great in his own eyes that others feared offering him wisdom? Had he shunned wise friends for a time to do as he pleased?

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It has been said that a wise one learns from others’ mistakes. So, as we inspect the lives we are building, what can we learn from an inspection of David’s failure and then apply it to our lives?

  1. Be where we are supposed to be, doing what we are supposed to be doing.
  2. Resist the temptation to take a second look or dwell on a sinful thought that pops into our head.
  3. Catch our sins and “nip it in the bud” as Barney Fife says, while they are still in the thought stage, before we sink to deeper levels of speaking and acting on them.
  4. Seek accountability. Look for a mature Christian who is willing to speak the truth. Or two or three people. People with whom you will make yourself be totally open and honest. Commit yourself to be more concerned about how the Father sees you than what these people think of you. Share with them your struggles, temptations, and failures. Pray with each other. Don’t isolate yourself but congregate with other believers. And consider how you can spur one another on toward love and good deeds and encourage each other.
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Construction Zone: Is Your Plumbing Working?

Stepping in my basement door I was greeted with a “splash.” It stopped me dead in my tracks. That had never happened before. Our oatmeal colored Berber carpet looked like a layer of sand under an inch of water, as if a wave were retreating along the shoreline. If you’ve had the misfortune of finding yourself in a similar situation, you no doubt understand the importance of properly working, well maintained plumbing in your home. When plumbing is working correctly we never notice it, and we take it for granted. But faulty plumbing is noticed with alarm and taken seriously.

Piping in our homes has flow coming in and flow going out. It is designed to be a channel  for water to come in, be used, and then leave. Spiritually we are designed to operate similarly. Just like empty pipes would be useless, our lives devoid of the Spirit flowing through us would be of little use in God’s kingdom. We are designed with a capacity for the Holy Spirit to come in and fill us. But just like the piping in our house, we are also meant to have the filling of the Spirit pass through us in ways that are useful and effective in the lives of the world around us.

Spirit input. We should be constantly seeking more of the Spirit’s filling. A steady intake of the Word of God each day and seeking His heart through prayer keeps us constantly being filled. It prepares us to let the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – flow through us whenever and wherever.

mixer-tap-413745_1280Quenching the Spirit. We’re instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 to not quench the Spirit. If we are seeking to be a part of God’s kingdom coming here on earth and His will being done in society around us we must be aware to nurture His Spirit within us, to listen to it and obey it and not to quench it. Quenching the Spirit in our metaphor is very much like cutting off the water supply valve to your whole house. You leave yourself unprepared and empty of the very thing you need the most.

Outflow of the Spirit. When we turn on a water faucet in our house we expect the water to flow out. In our lives, we expect the Spirit to flow through us in all his varied and glorious ways. Acts 4:31 tells us of those who were filled with the Spirit and spoke the Word boldly. In other places in the New Testament we see a variety of other things coming from those filled with the Spirit: wisdom, faith in the face of imminent death, healing, ministering to needs, and an outflowing of many other gifts of the Spirit. Are we so filled up with Him that the Spirit’s power is able to flow through us at a moment’s notice just as water would flow when we turn on a faucet?

In Genesis 12:2-3 God told Abraham, “I will bless you;… and you will be a blessing… and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” We too are blessed to be a blessing. The blessings of that Spirit that flow into us are meant for us, but they are also meant for others. We are not to be a stopped up pipe. We are to allow the Holy Spirit’s power to flow freely into us and out of us. John 7:37- 39 puts it pretty plainly:

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

There is a thirsty world all around us. People are in desperate need of a drink of the living water we possess. Is your plumbing working? Is the living water flowing from within you? Or have your pipes backed up? Be a conduit of the myriad of gifts the Spirit has to offer the world around you. Allow the fresh, living water of life to flow forth wherever you go.

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Construction Zone: Studs

Studs.

Yep, you read it correctly.

No. Not a horse, nor the handsome guy in anatomy class, but the two-by-fours within your walls.

My husband is a fantastic handyman who has saved us many a repair bill through the years. I find paying in Yankee dimes much preferrable to ruining our budget by paying an exorbitant bill from our checking account for home or car repairs.

My husband is also quite the kidder. His favorite handyman joke when working with walls or hanging pictures for me involves a stud-finder. In case you don’t know, a stud-finder is a large matchbox sized, battery operated gadget that can detect boards within a wall so a person will know where to hang heavy objects. As you move it across the wall it beeps when it senses the more dense area where a stud is located. My Sweetheart’s joke is to sweep his stud-finder around him and finally across his body, and at that moment hit the test button which causes it to beep. He does this with a flirtatious grin, and of course I reward him with a quick kiss and “That’s my stud!” or laughter and eye rolls, depending on my mood. Even after years of this same joke, it never ceases to bring joy to our days.

post-2232962_1280Through all our years of marriage I’ve learned many things about studs that I did not know as a young bride of 21. I knew there were boards within the walls of buildings. And I knew they were needed to support the roof. But that’s about all I knew those many years ago.

Since then I’ve learned that studs have to be at the right distance apart to make a structure strong and stable. Studs need to be placed “16 inches on center” for THE best stiff, strong wall. This doesn’t mean there are 16 inches in between the studs, but that measuring from the center of one board to the center of the next will give you 16 inches. Some buildings don’t measure up to this standard. Older homes, or ones constructed by someone on the cheap or in a haphazard way may yield other results. Twenty-four inch centers is common, but not nearly as strong.

Secondly, I learned that studs need to be certain dimensions, not just any ole board will do. Two-by-fours are the standard stud size. That means that when they are cut, they are 2 inches thick and 4 inches wide. After that they are kiln dried which causes them to shrink as the moisture evaporates. Then they are further reduced in size when they are planed to make them a uniform size for building (usually about 1 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches).

wood-690402_1280I also learned that studs are usually made of particular kinds of wood. Softwood is generally used behind the walls for construction projects, whereas hardwoods are used for the beautiful furniture and embellishments we see in the rooms of our homes. Softwoods are generally coniferous trees such as pine and cedar, those that grow quickly and do not lose their leaves in the fall. While hardwoods are deciduous trees, like oaks, which lose their leaves. Softwood is preferred because it is easier to saw, plane, bore, and nail because of the structure within the wood, and I wonder, if not possibly because it grows more quickly and trees can be replaced within a few years rather than decades.

So how does our woodworking lesson relate to life?

1 – The unseen supports inside us are very important. I may look like a happy-go-lucky, got-it-all-together kind of woman on a random Sunday morning where your local God-fearing congregation is meeting. But on the inside I may be a sinful mess, a doubting mess, a fearful mess, a depressed mess, a burdened mess, a prideful mess, or any of a number of other messes. You don’t see the real me. Only God does. And I don’t see the real you. I’ve learned through years of walking with the Lord that the scriptural principle is, what’s on the inside is going to eventually come out. We are to be more inwardly concerned with pleasing God than pleasing people.

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. Matthew 12:35 KJV

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 NIV

2 – Your internal “studs” must be made of the right stuff. This is obvious. Heaven knows those cardboard houses I built as a kid couldn’t even withstand one rainy day. Yet we try building our inner man based on popularity, acceptance, the world’s opinions, and even our own feeble human wisdom. Softwood such as this won’t work for a stable life. While soft wood may be best for building physical structures, we want to build our spiritual homes on the hard truths of the Word of God. God’s words from scripture, when taken in daily and applied to building our lives and homes, will build in us the character, faith, submissiveness, patience, love, and a host of other things that are required to live a life of love as Christ commands us in the New Testament. When we seek Jesus first and follow His commands we are building with the right materials.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NIV

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 NIV

wood-877368_12803 – Your “studs” need to be the right size. If I tried using a 1×4 within the walls of my home I would find them collapsing under the weight of the roof. If I used 1/4 inch plywood it would be even worse. If I cut my studs too short, I’d find myself having to duck my head when I entered my home. We would never do that, and would consider it shoddy work if a builder we hired did such a thing. However, we frequently build this way in spiritual matters. We take shortcuts and don’t measure up. We grasp onto one verse and use it as a proof-text for what we believe. We ignore the harder teachings of scripture because they are too challenging, they convict us too much, or because we haven’t read enough of His word to know better. We need to be students of the Word on a daily, methodical journey to learn all we can of God’s ways and the nature of the world through His Word. Anything short of observing the full counsel of the Word of God, is taking shortcuts and not measuring up in our building materials.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24 NIV

Those [seeds] on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. Luke 8:13 NIV

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. Psalm 119:15-16 NIV

4 – “Studs” need to be on at least 16 inch centers. We may be firmly grounded in scriptures about “honor your parents” or “thou shall not covet” or “for God so loved the world” or other basics we’ve been taught since childhood. These are not unimportant, but they are few and far between as far as strong support for our spiritual house goes. These represent lives built on 24 inch centers or worse. As we’ve grown physically older, have we matured spiritually too? Have we studied His Word deeply and participated in Bible studies and classes that have added deeper truths and more complex theology to our walls? Have we gotten to know the Father personally from His word rather than just religiously? Have we added teachings on spiritual gifts, grace, wisdom, and other matters to our lives? The deeper teachings of God’s word grow us stronger. With each new revelation from the Word of Truth we add more studs to our walls constructing stronger Godly houses with numerous 16 inch center studs.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:1-3 NIV

Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. Hebrews 5:12-13 NIV

So as we evaluate our spiritual house, I must ask – If I run a spiritual stud-finder across you, will it beep or will you have to mash the test button? Will it be just one, or many studs, spaced closely, offering strong support, cut to the right dimensions, and made of appropriate materials?

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Construction Zone: A Fresh Start on Your Fixer Upper

Priceless 2019 ongoing series: Construction Zone. In these articles this year we will focus on the new creations Our Father is building. We hope to inspire, challenge, and encourage as always. Here’s the first offering of the series. Read and be blessed!

 

 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

 

As the new year begins with the freshness of a new romance, we once again have been given a clean slate upon which to write.

It has always amazed me how many fresh starts God gives to us frail, imperfect humans. We have a fresh opportunity New Year’s day, the first of every month, every Monday, every single sunrise, every hour, every minute. These are starting points to become something new in Him: to change our perspective, alter our wrong behaviors, make a better choice, forgive a past event, have faith in Him,… and my list could go on. He knew us when He created the human race. He knew by giving us a free will to choose how to live and whether to love Him or not that we, like little children, would make mistakes and need many, many chances to set things aright and begin all over again.

Do you take these fresh opportunities to put the past behind you and open a new box of crayons and a fresh pad of paper? To revise the script of your life? To reorient yourself to follow the map God would have for your life? To do a little home make-over, a little reconstruction or redecorating to the home in your heart?

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home-2861604_1280.jpgThe show Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines has become a huge hit here in the heart of the South where I live. Mention “Magnolia Market” or “shiplap” around the women I know and you’ll get heads popping up to listen or interject in the conversation. And for what are these two folks famous?

Demolition. Design. Construction. Decorating. Landscaping.

In other words, making old homes look new: revitalizing the building, cleaning up, restoring, repurposing outdated used items, and creating a warm home. That’s why we love them. And I think there is possibly a spiritual aspect to why we love them and this show so very much.

Really?! Do you see a spiritual meaning behind every stone and used piece of shiplap?

Why yes. Yes I do! Thanks for asking. And here’s what I see.

In scripture I see that our bodies are likened to a house or a temple. A building in other words. A house occupied by God’s Spirit.

I see that Sin makes the inside of the house dirty, damaged, old and run-down, and it needs cleaning, restoring and being made new, which can only be done by God Himself.

I see that Our Creator has a plan, a design for our life, if we hire Him to come in and do a make-over. A design that would make Joanna jealous no doubt, no offense to her, but He is The Master Designer.

I see also that unless the Lord builds the house, we are vainly laboring to build a shanty that will blow over in the first stiff wind.

I see Jesus Himself as the one sprucing up the place with beautiful decor and grass and plants, making us loving and kind, tender-hearted and others-centered, a sweet fragrance of Himself to the world.

I believe that our attraction to this show lies in the fact that it embodies physical redemption and renewal. It is a visible metaphor of our life, what we know we are (old man, broken, in need of repair and a master rebuilder) and what we long to be (whole, beautiful, useful, free from the dirt and rodents and mold of sin).

So… Let’s take advantage of this fresh start this year – not to diet or quit something or demand more from ourselves and condemn ourselves when we fail – but to allow the Holy One, Our Creator and Designer to remake us into the new creation He has planned. Let’s embrace our own remodel.

Demolition. Let Him tear down walls that separate us from others and go for the open concept. Let Him tear out the roots of sin in our hearts and replant us in Himself as an obedient and fruitful branch being fed by the Vine. Let Him rip pride out of our walls and replace those rusty rotten pipes with a humble servant spirit. Sounds painful and not much fun doesn’t it? It will be. Painful and not fun. But the beauty of the end creation will be worth it.

architect-architecture-black-and-white-1537008Design. He has the design plans finished for you, Sweet One. He has a plan for me and a plan for you. Your house may look similar to the one down the street, but it is distinctive, unique, and appealing to certain people as no other house can be. Your blueprint is laid out in His Word, the Bible. If you follow it closely you will wind up with a firm foundation of wisdom, sturdy walls of understanding that allow you to live in safety and peace, and rooms filled with precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3-4) That’s why it’s so important to consult His Word daily to make sure you are following the Designer’s plans.

Construction. Are you willing to undergo a year-long construction project in your inner house? How about a life-long one? That’s what it really is. But the beginning can be tough. Are you ready to add extra rooms? Need to raise the ceiling and put in a new sturdy beam to open up the interior of your heart? Are you ready to have that magnificent master bath with a shower with a dozen shower heads to cleanse you and warm you and comfort you when you’re stressed? Do you desire a gourmet kitchen where you can feast on life-giving, healthy, restoring morsels? The construction period will be hard, but it will be worth it! All you have to do is commit to starting today. Just like with Chip & Joanna, you will face obstacles and setbacks some days or weeks, but you get another fresh start each day, each week, each month, remember?

Decorating. Allow Jesus to add the finishing touches. He has a PhD in Interior Design you know. He’ll pick just the right colors, textures, and styles to make your life a warm home open to visitors who need your wise advice, care, and love. And you’ll be shocked how He is able to re-use, repurpose, and redeem your old furnishings and adornments.

Landscaping. Jesus has a green thumb too. He can make the outer beauty of your heart cause others to pop into your yard and ring the doorbell just to ask, “Who did all this?” “Where can I get someone to do a home make-over for me?” “Can you get me in touch with Him?” You really won’t have to assault strangers with the Gospel in the Walmart parking lot as you fear you will. Your landscaping will give you a platform that draws others to your Master Designer! You’ll have your own private episode of Fixer Upper to show them how you got in touch with Him.

It’s January 2019. Take this opportunity to start fresh. It’s demolition time. Turn your remodeling over to the professional; all your handyman work on your own is useless.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

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(Join us at Gardendale First Baptist Church this winter for our year-long focus on building our lives and homes. We will begin Tuesday, January 15, with a 10 week study called HomeBuilders, that teaches scriptural truths upon which to build godly lives and homes. Find out more at Rooms Full of Riches or on our Events and Information page.)