Butterfly Sparks Designs

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Religion vs. Relationship.

“What would Jesus do?”
“Put on the mind of Christ.”
“Be Christ-like.”

Common phrases if you’re a Christian. The types of phrases that we can become numb to because we hear them so often. I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately, and what it means to be transformed to the mind of Christ.

In the thirty-something years that I’ve been a Christian, my perspective on what these phrases mean has been consistent. Do what Christ did. Simple, right? Paul is pretty clear about this, or at least I thought so. I have always thought about the mind of Christ being my response to what is happening around me. That my mind should be Christlike in my response – whether my response is by “doing” or by “saying” something. Respond with kindness, compassion, love, and peace. The action has been the key for me…the doing. I have always read Paul’s instructions to us from that mindset. After all, it makes sense, right? Jesus responded in these ways, so shouldn’t I?

I was talking with someone recently about this, and this person asked me what I thought was an odd and irrelevant question at the time. But this person is quite skilled at digging underneath the surface of what is presented, so I indulged this person’s little “question and answer” exercise. I was asked, “What was the last moment you [I] can remember that you consciously, tangibly, knowingly experienced radical transformation by the power of God?” Wow. Now, that’s quite a question. Over the past few years, I could point to a number of areas where I can now see, looking back, that God was transforming me, and I know that transformation has occurred in my heart in several ways (I still have a very long way to go). But this person’s question was not about those experiences – it was about a physical manifestation of the supernatural healing and transforming power of God…when last had it been so powerful that my body was aware of it as it happened? My answer to the question was a time about 8 years ago. On a late Saturday night/early morning in August, 2001, I drove home from a bar, barely dressed and reeking of smoke and alcohol. On the way home, I finally gave in to the longings I had been carrying for quite some time – to return to God and to reclaim my faith. Instead of driving home, though, I drove my car directly to the front parking space of a church near my home. I sat there for hours, just staring up at the steeple and praying, not knowing what to do next. Cars started to arrive. I realized that it was Sunday morning. I knew if I drove away then that I would not return. So I went in. Just as I was, half dressed in very immodest clothing, and dirty. The moment of transformation didn’t occur as I walked out after the service, but as I walked to the door to go in. I felt the old melt away and pour off of me as the front door opened for me. And I’ve never been the same since. Thank you, Jesus.

After I answered this question, I went on about my days but carried a little bit of frustration. Why is my last recall of a tangible, physical experience of transformation so long ago? I started to become very frustrated that I wasn’t able to point to other definitive moments since then. Have I not opened myself up to what is possible when I surrender to Him, so fully that my body is aware of it as the old melts away? How does this fit in to what it means to have the mind of Christ? Why has it been so long since I have heard/felt a true word from God to me? These have been burning questions for me. God, what is the barrier in me, in my heart, that keeps me from experiencing the fullness of your work and blessings in my life?

I got my answer. Just a few nights ago, in my old flannel PJ’s, standing over my bathroom sink, washing my face before bed. I wasn’t in some high and holy place, I wasn’t at church, I wasn’t in my prayer closet. I was doing my thing, a routine I follow every night. I lifted my face and in the mirror, and what I saw was my answer. My eyes were weary, red, and swollen from a day of grieving a recent and significant loss. And in the red streaks of my own eyes I saw my own heart. In that moment, God spoke to me that the true meaning of “putting on the mind of Christ” is not about what Christ did but why He did it. The mind of Christ is the heart of Christ. And the heart of Christ is about absolute surrender to the Father. It isn’t about the doing. The mind of Christ…the true character of Christ…is about full and ultimate obedience to and trust of His Father. He was not suspicious of His Father’s intentions for Him. He never went anywhere His Father did not lead Him. He never said anything His Father did not speak. He received God’s love. He received God’s grace. He trusted God. My body went hot and I felt the old melt away and the new take residence. I think I might have done my happy dance. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I did.

I can’t give love that I cannot receive. I can’t freely give grace that I don’t freely receive. I can’t give what I have shut out. I can’t trust from a place of distrust. And I have left a wake of destruction by trying to do just that.

I went straight to my Bible and started reading Paul’s writings again. They are leaping off the page with new life. Everything looks different. Everything is different. I guess this is where the “constant renewing of the mind” can finally start, huh?

So, I have a new answer for the question asked of me. I can’t wait to report back to the one who asked it. December 13, 2009, at 10:05 p.m. In my old flannel PJs at my bathroom sink. The night religion became a relationship.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Other People's Stuff

Hi again. It’s been a while.

I have so many things to say, but my thoughts – and even my prayers -- exhaust me these days. I so earnestly need a clear and precise directive Word from God. Or, maybe more accurately stated, I need to accept and be obedient to the clear and precise directive Word from God that He may have already spoken to me.

Since my thoughts aren’t organized enough to put to paper (yet), I’ll leave you with these blog links well worthy of your time. Enjoy.

1. No exaggeration, I think I have read this post about 20 times in the past 6 weeks. God has led me into a very familiar environment that I happily left long ago. I didn’t want to go back “home” to this work life that held me in sin and bondage for years and years as an unbeliever and even for a while as a new believer. But I returned “home” as a much different person than I was when I left. The direction of my eyes, ears, hands, feet, and heart have changed. So when I feel weary, I read this. You should, too. Really.

2. You’ll want to park on Sarah's blog for at least an hour or so. Sarah has a wonderful gift of expressing hard truths in real, puncturing and loving ways. What she and her husband Chris have found, in their unapologetic, unbridled, and unwavering commitment to purity in their marriage is something that most people go for a lifetime without understanding. Don’t read it if you don’t want some hard, real truth. Then after you finish this single post, read her story. The reality of what can happen when we let little bits of our guard down. For any of us in marriages, relationships or one day planning to be married, I have realized that this commitment to flee (not walk, but FLEE) from temptation in the smallest areas of our lives is part of what it means to be “equally yoked”. If that commitment is not there on both sides of the relationship, then it very likely is not God’s best.

3. This one wrecked me for days weeks. This is so worth 2 minutes of your time.

4. To end on a lighter note, here’s a funny one. Well, it’s hilarious to me…and hopefully to you. My current object of lust is a black KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Oh, how I desire one. And oh, how I know it will be a very long time (like maybe 17 months when I’m DEBT FREE!!!) before I get one.
But my bloggy friend Annie (she used to live just down the street from me, how weird is that?) had her very special KitchenAid day a while back. She chronicled her journey to her KitchenAid Lover in this super fabulous video. And, I downloaded the song right after I heard it. Good stuff!

That’s all I’ve got. None of it’s original. I guess I’m sort of like a cover band today. But hey, at least a new post is showing up in your blog reader, right?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And the weiner is...

(Sigh.) I love them.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

All Drugged Up and Nowhere to Go.

So...how was YOUR week?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall.

If you know my story, then you know that my early years in the church were like many of yours may have been. I was taught sound doctrine based firmly in Truth, and for that, I am so grateful. But I also picked up some other things…some things that I wish I hadn’t.

I am not computer savvy enough to draw a circle below. But in your mind’s eye, picture a circle. In the center, write “Truth”. The diameter of the circle, though, should be labeled “religion” or even more accurately, “legalism”. I was taught Truth through the lenses of legalism.

Hold that thought for a second.

I have given much thought lately to the idea of spiritual discipline. Not long ago, I found myself the nastiest form of spiritual warfare I’ve ever experienced. So I’ve been checking myself … taking a self-inventory, if you will.

How do I relate to God?
Am I placing Him above all else?
Am I seeking Him?
Is there an area of unrepented sin in my life?
Am I consistent in my spiritual disciplines?

Most of us know what the components of spiritual discipline are. To name a few…fasting, prayer, quiet time with God daily, and so on. You know the drill.

My humbling exercise soon revealed that I have a serious problem with self-image. I wasn’t expecting that. I’m not talking about the outer image that I see when I look in the mirror. I already knew I had issues there. But like the outer shell of the circle I asked you to draw in your head, how I see my outer shell is merely a refraction of the lens upon how I see myself in the shadow of God.

There is an inherent “default” where my mind goes when I read about God and His instructions and commands to us. My faith, from the time I comprehended it, was grounded in an idea of performance and both subtly and blatantly, I was taught that my holiness was dependent on my performance and what I had achieved. Most often, those words were not spoken to me in a Sunday School class or sermon but instead were spoken – loudly -- through the actions and responses of the church in the face of someone’s spiritual fall. Those who did not perform well were not welcome. As a young kid, it framed my view of God. That stuff sticks and is really hard to wipe off.

OK, here’s where those two concepts come together. I understand, and have for some time, that discipline is a means of seeking God and receiving Him. I understand and firmly believe in the importance of “doing the things” necessary to keep me grounded in my faith. They are necessary. Period. Not because they area list of rules to follow but because they drive me closer to my Abba Father. As a matter of fact, I have often said to others that I do not look upon the list of spiritual disciplines as merely a set of rules to be graded against. I say that a lot.

But do I really believe that? We live what we believe. Do I really live that?


When I meet someone who is more spiritually mature than me (i.e., more “holy”), I don’t see their holiness first. I see my unholiness. It is my focal point when placed in the shadow of holiness. When I read, think on, and meditate upon the attributes of God, I don’t see his worthiness first. I see my own unworthiness. My unworthiness is my focal point, not God’s worthiness. I am centered on my “uns”…which means my focus is on myself.

While the awareness of my unholiness and unworthiness is the very thing that humbles me before God (a healthy thing, by the way), shouldn’t my focus be on HIS holiness and HIS worthiness? If I am focused on my “uns” then the enemy has already stolen my thoughts by directing them toward the lie I am unworthy of God’s love, grace, and redemption. And guess what that probably means? That when I look upon others, I probably do/see the same thing. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

God, you see the image of your holiness and worthiness in me. You do not see my unholiness or unworthiness first. You call me worthy. You call me redeemed. You call me into your holiness. May I see myself and others the way that you do, through your eyes, and through your promise.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Psalm 51.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (v. 10-12, NIV)

This verse, this “old favorite”, has become very special to me recently. I had gone through a bit of a dry spiritual season, and it was this verse that leapt into my heart’s memory and rekindled a flame that…I’m ashamed to admit… had dulled down to barely a flicker.

Somewhere along the way, while transitioning into this amazingly wonderful new chapter in my life, I had lost my focus. My gaze was fixed upon the details of my new journey instead of on the One who authored it.

I have meditated on this verse for the past week. It draws me in over and over again.

Sometimes, it evokes the well-known song derived from its words...most of you are probably singing it in your little heads right now!

I have always read this verse as a lament, a cry for forgiveness and redemption. Partly because my seminary class made me do it. I can’t argue. It is that, indeed.

But isn’t it even more than that? It is a promise. It is hope. David was at his end. His sin and worldly pursuits had left him dry. He had lost focus.

Wait a minute…so had I.

I don’t know what the theologians out there would say, but here’s what I’ve got.

David cried out for God to “renew” a steadfast spirit within him.

Renew. God had done it before, so He would do it again.

He then cried out for God to “restore” the joy of salvation.

Restore. God had done it before, so He would do it again.

Do you see it? Not only does He renew and restore us, but He transforms us. And the transformation that takes place draws us even closer to Him than we were before. Our hearts change and we forever pursue him differently…more deeply from that point forward.

I can cry out, with a repentant heart, for God to renew and restore me. He’s done it before. Too many times to count. And then … booyah … all done. The only thing left for me to do is receive it!

Now that’s hope.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Vine, Year 2.

This is why I moved across the state to Braselton. Check it out.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Standing in the Gap.

If you read this blog, you know there is some exciting stuff going on. See the post below! =)

But as it is with life, there is never just one thing going on! Lately, for me, there is another dark season that coexists. A season that looks like a big, ugly wrecking ball, swinging unrelentingly with one goal...to demolish. A season of harsh and piercing words, questions that have laid unanswered for far too long, prideful arrogance, indifference, hypersensitivity, new wounds, and old wounds re-opened. Utterly at the end of myself, needing someone to stand in the gap for me. Needing someone to fight on my behalf. Desperately. Because inside, I feel numb and dead. Hopeless. Embarrassed and ashamed that I feel this way. And that’s not me. It’s not my nature. It’s not my heart. It’s not my theology. Something is broken. And I need protection. I need a warrior. I need to be led from despair to praise, because I’ve lost the path. I need help.

Have you ever been there?

Stasi Eldridge tells a story in her wonderful book, Captivating, that has “stuck” with me for years now. She tells a story of her husband, John, and how he stood in the gap for her. Of course it is a precious and powerful testimony of God’s design in marriage, and a perfect example of how a husband protects his wife from assault and warfare and leads her to Christ when she has fallen. But it is also a beautiful testimony of how we, the Body, can stand in the gap for one another.
We long for someone to stand between us and the vicious assaults of our Enemy. One weary night I had gone to bed early, overcome with despair and hopelessness. I felt pounded down, beyond saving, and worthy of condemnation. I lay still, engulfed in grief. Suddenly, John was at my bedside. He was angry, but not at me. John recognized the hand of our enemy. He began to take his authority over me as my husband and forcefully commanded the minions of Satan to release me. He commanded them to be silent, and he sent them to the throne of Jesus for judgment. When he began to pray for me, I was embarrassed. When he continued, I began to feel lighter. When he finished, tears were streaming down my face and my hands were raised to God in holy gratitude and joyful worship. I had gone to bed filled with unrelenting sorrow. I ended the night belting out heartfelt songs of praise.

He stood in the gap for her. Immediately. He didn't ask questions. He didn’t scoff at her or mock her. He didn’t judge her. He just got down to business and got it done. Sometimes it’s so easy for us to think that just because we can’t “see” someone’s heart injury, that it isn’t real. But oh, to the one who feels beyond saving, pounded down, and worthy of condemnation, the pain is very, very real.

So I would encourage you to stand in the gap for those you love. If you see a need, don't stop at "I'll be praying for you". Pray with him/her NOW, together with them. Let them feel the healing power of God as you lay your hands on them.

Look for those opportunities. Claim them. You’ll be blessed. And so will the one on whose behalf you have fought for.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Feeling Blue.

So...how was YOUR day?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Another one bites the dust. Please join me in a moment of silence for the froggie.