Butterfly Sparks Designs

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.