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In other words, making old homes look new: revitalizing the building, cleaning up, restoring, repurposing outdated used items, and creating a warm home.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.)

Happy New Year!

    He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

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End of Year Reflections

Closing the book on 2018

 “For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 52:12

It has been said that the past is the part of our story that has already been written and set in cement. But today and the days to come are the blank pages of our story waiting to be written. We can’t change our past, but we can change our future. As this, the last day of the year is upon us, may we pause to reflect on this past year, to learn from it, come to grips with it, forgive it, and put it to rest, so that we may march forward boldly living out the story God has for us.

calendar-handwriting-notebook-636246.jpgThis past year some have had the best year of their life! Others have experienced a year of overwhelming trauma, grief, illness, or regret. But to most, it was just another year. So I must ask, are we simply ticking off the years of this one life we possess? Or are we evaluating, learning, reflecting upon, and growing from the things we have experienced?

Things I’m reflecting on? Some major and minor joys, and some major and minor disappointments. A beautiful wedding. A missions appointment. A new son-in-love. Serious illness of those I love. The rapid passage of time. Escalating pain of arthritic joints. A new puppy in the house. Another year of reading through the entire word of God. A daughter thousands of miles away during the holiday. The loss of dear Christian mentors. The year has been a mix of grief and joy, welcomes and goodbyes, hopes and fears, success and failure.

imagesMy greatest joy and sadness are one and the same this year – I have a child who has moved abroad to work and spread the love of Christ. I’m so proud of her, so thrilled with this grand adventure God is taking her on, and yet at the same time so sad that she’s not at home with us and we won’t see her for months if not years.

Our daughter is living in Peru and has shared with us some of their traditions for the New Year holiday. A few seem to correlate with our U.S. traditions. They eat their favorite foods, typically seafood, empanadas and rice dishes, which would equate with our black-eyed peas, turnip greens and ham, and at my house, tailgating food as well for watching the New Years’ Day bowl games. They throw rice around the house encouraging financial prosperity – once again the black-eye peas here in the U.S., where tradition says we’ll get a dollar for every black-eye pea we eat on New Years’ Day. They also wear yellow grapes-typical-rituals-new-yearunderwear, (?!) kind of like the way we wear goofy glasses and hats. And just like we count down to midnight watching the ball drop in Times Square, they have their own countdown. During the countdown to midnight they eat 12 grapes – representing each month of the year – for luck.

But my favorite of their traditions has a deeper meaning. The people of the community all go outside together and burn rag dolls, often dressed up to look like themselves in a piece of their own clothing. The burning of the effigy signifies that all of the past year is done and behind you and it is time to start anew.

What a great symbolic way to end the year! How often do we carry over the pains of last year into the clean slate of the next year – the fresh start that our Father gives us.

Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, offers us this wisdom on the subject of how to deal with our past:

God is the God of our yesterdays, and he allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present.…God’s hand reaches back to the past, settling all claims against our conscience.… Let the past rest… in the sweet embrace of Christ.

So I encourage you this last day of 2018, take some time to be alone with the Lord. Read in His Word – His letter to you. Reflect upon the past year. Weigh the good and the bad. Forgive. Let go. Rejoice. Mourn. Then pray to your Abba, offering these hurts and joys, pains, regrets, and hopes to Him. He will do more with the pieces of our lives that we offer Him than we can ever imagine. And this is my prayer for each of you:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:16-21 NIV

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Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God. Philippians 3:13-14

Happy New Year!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making away in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

pexels-photo-26339As I write, it is October 28th. Gearing up for Halloween weekend here – church fall festival, costumes and candy. But since we plan this blog months ahead, I am catapulted into 2017.

What will the year hold for each of us? Will it be “The Best Year Ever!”? “The One That Nearly Did Me In”? Or just another year? There will be definite scheduled things you see coming now: You may graduate. Celebrate your child’s first birthday. Retire. Go on the mission field. Move to a new city. Get married….  And then there will be the unexpected things: Will you fall in love? Get transferred? Break up with the boyfriend? Bury a parent? Get your dream job? Experience serious illness? None of us know.

Life is a wild ride! Ups and downs, turbulence and smooth sailing. So are you up for the adventure? Or are you clinging to the status quo with white knuckles just hoping nothing very bad comes your way? Is there a way we can be prepared for these unexpected troubles that come our way? You know there is! I wouldn’t ask a question like that unless I was about to give you my wise answer! 😉

The way to be prepared for whatever comes our way, is to know and follow closely The Way, Jesus Christ.

Some of our goals here at Priceless blog that you can read on our “About” page are:

We hope to INSPIRE women to desire a deeper relationship with their Father God, to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Savior Jesus Christ, and to live a Spirit-filled life.

We commit to CHALLENGE women to study the Word of God, pray in faith, walk obediently as Christ-followers, and love and serve others around them just as Christ did.

We long to ENCOURAGE women as they daily experience the good times and even the mundane, but also the difficult times: the obstacles, the tragic, or the unknowns in life.

Hopefully, all our articles help women come to a deeper realtionship with the Lord. But in an effort to be intentional, instructional, and organized in this help, and in order to help you face the coming year ahead “clothed in strength and dignity,” we are trying something new over the next couple of months. Next Monday we will begin a discipleship series called Back to the Basics. It will consist of a series of articles that come out every other Monday on the foundational disciplines of walking with the Lord. It is for every age and every stage of life. We’ll cover topics like having a quiet time, reading the Bible, prayer and journaling, just to name a few. These topics are great for new believers and young Christians, but will also hopefully inspire the veteran Christian women. Also, we ask that you mature women would chime in on the replies and share tips and wisdom you have learned in your walk with Christ.

Following some spiritual disciplines in our lives will do several beneficial things for us on the road of life this year. First, our relationship with Christ will grow and flourish in ways that bless us deeply whatever our circumstances. As we come to know and love Him more through Bible study and prayer, we come to trust Him more, to understand His ways more, and to fear the future less. As our faith grows, we trust that we have a redeemer, a refuge, a defender, a guide, a savior, a healer, and a lover of our soul that carries us through every situation we encounter in life.

Second, we will develop habits that are good for our spiritual life. Having that organized quiet time, time in the word, prayer, etc. will carry us through the rough waters. We won’t wake up the morning after a crisis freaking out. We will wake up and go to our chair where we meet with God each day and spend time with Him, because that is our routine. And our hearts will receive peace and direction and wisdom for the issues of the day. That’s not to say that everything will be rosy; it’s to say that the God of all Hope has your back in every situation.

Third, we will change. We will become new. At salvation we are made a new creature. But the change does not end there. God is in the business of remaking us continually. All those self-help books get us nowhere in the long run. But a close and dynamic relationship with Christ rubs off those rough edges, sweeps out the hidden dirt, hammers out the dings, and shines up our tarnished places almost without us realizing it. His transforming work in our heart through the washing of His Word will cause us to become someone different, better.

Let me give you a guarantee. Walk faithfully following Christ and sticking with the spiritual disciplines presented to you through this series, and you will look back in 5 years (probably in only 1 year!) and say, “Wow! I can’t believe that was me back then. Look how He has changed me.” To re-word a Broadway lyric from Wicked, “I can say that I’ve been changed for the better. Because I knew Him, I have been changed for good!”

So on our journey this year, let’s seek Him daily. Let’s grow! Let’s live abundantly, faithfully! Let us not fear the future, but walk faithfully.

We ask that mature women would chime in on the replies and share tips and wisdom you have learned in your walk with Christ.

2017