Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Your Hands

This song by J. J. Heller came on the radio when I needed to hear it last week. Sometimes God uses songs like this to encourage me.

I went to to find the verses from John 10 that I wanted to post below the song, and incredibly, of all the verses in the entire Bible, those particular words of Jesus are their "verse of the day" today!

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”
- John 10:28-30

Monday, April 5, 2010

the Beauty that makes beautiful

Several weeks ago, I read through A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis. In it, he recounts his experience of losing his wife to cancer and processes how this grief affects his faith in God. In one particular passage, I found this elegant connection between his love for this wife (H.) leading him to deeper love for God:
I see I've described H. as being like a sword. That's true as far as it goes. But utterly inadequate by itself, and misleading. I ought to have balanced it. I ought to have said, 'But also like a garden. Like a nest of gardens, wall within wall, hedge within hedge, more secret, more full of fragrant and fertile life, the further you entered.'

And then, of her, and of every created thing I praise, I should say, 'In some way, in its unique way, like Him who made it.'

Thus up from the garden to the Gardener, from the sword to the Smith. To the life-giving Life and the Beauty that makes beautiful.

This description of God - the Beauty that makes beautiful - really resonated in my heart today as I looked at these exquisite pictures of earth taken by a Japanese astronaut (Astro_Soichi) from the International Space Station.

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition

I'm a sucker for a good makeover show. It doesn't really matter if it's renovation of a home or refashioning of a person. It's so fun to watch the gradual transformation process and then see the delicious "before and after" shots side by side.

While I was watching a home makeover show this morning, I started wondering why makeover shows never get old. What is it about a makeover that is so appealing? How many times will I watch tile replaced with hardwood or style-phobic women don new sequin camis? What makes me watch a Nick Arrojo haircut and Carmindy makeup tips time after time?

There's something fascinating about watching the old and broken become like new. It's especially powerful when you see that transformation internally. Some of these makeovers really change the way the person feels and acts. It's often a struggle for them to initially let go of their old, inappropriate clothes. They stubbornly resist out of fear, habit, or insecurity. But by the end of the show, they stand a little straighter and smile a little brighter. Despite the struggle of transformation, a fresh set of clothes or a fresh coat of paint often can make all the difference.

I think it's interesting that the Bible compares a spiritual transformation to putting on new clothes. It's the makeover of a lifetime to become a child of the living God. When he hands over our new wardrobe, it's only a matter of time before we view ourselves differently, behave differently, think differently, and become a whole new person. However, the process of that makeover is difficult and takes time.

In the movie The Passion of the Christ, as Jesus is struggling beneath the burden of carrying the cross, there comes a point at which he falls and his mother comes running toward him. Bloody and beaten, he musters the strength to look into Mary's eyes and says to her: "See, mother, I make all things new."

Whenever I see this movie scene at Easter time, I'm so moved by that statement, made in the middle of the greatest agony, and what it ultimately means. It's very easy to get caught up in the problem of pain in this world and in my own personal struggle of the transformation process. If God was so good and powerful, why is there suffering? That question is tossed around by unbelievers and believers alike. If we are honest, we are wondering, why does God allow so much evil when he could just put an end to it. What is he waiting for?

The promise: "I am making everything new!" is taken from Revelation when Jesus comes back to earth as the Messianic King to begin ruling his kingdom. This is the great "makeover after shot" that we all long for when we desire a restored earth, justice, and healing. And when Christ was dying, he was making that possibility a reality for all of us.

In the middle of the process, it's easy to get discouraged because of our yet unfulfilled desire for the end result- the chance to live on a new earth, free from any mourning, crying, death, or pain. But that transformation can only begin to take place when we remove our old filthy rags of sin - the tatters that we try to hide behind, excuse, clutch tightly, and cover with - and, through faith, put on Christ. He is the only one righteous, the only one holy, the only one sinless. And when we put on his clothes, his salvation begins to work its way out through our lives.

It's the transformation of a lifetime available to anyone who asks.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17