UNDER CONSTRUCTION

We have just returned home from a trip through 5 different states – Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia.  We did not “tour” throughout all these states, we did drive through them on the interstate highways.  It is easy to see the incredible variety of landscape that our country exhibits:

Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina make the driving scenic and sometimes scary.

fall-colors-in-east-tennessee
The mountains of East Tennessee.

Florida is significantly flatter than the mountains but there are beautiful beaches and palm trees, and fruit stands with fresh fruit even in March (we were there during the Strawberry Festival, yum!)

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, Coral Gables, Florida Intricate detail in palm tree
A beautiful palm tree in Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, Coral Gables, Florida.

 

Whether or not the terrain was hilly or flat, there was one feature that was the same throughout all the states.  It was pervasive.  It was ubiquitous!  It is the orange road construction barrel.

Orange road construction barrel
Orange highway construction barrel. Some say it is our state flower, but I think it is all over our country!

Construction – it is good for the highways. 

We know that there are potholes, uneven lanes, torn up pavement, all sorts of problems with the roadways and construction to repair such problems is good.  You simply cannot get away from the barrels.  They are put up when no construction is in sight, yet.  They are put up when the grading equipment is alongside the lane of travel.  They give evidence of the upcoming improvement in road conditions, which is good even if they cause some congestion and delay at the present time.

USED Crane visible from interstate in Nashville
Crane hovering over construction in downtown Nashville.

Construction – it is good for the cities.

When there is construction, there is growth.  There is change and there is development.  Sometimes people differ on how or where construction should occur, but there can be no dispute that construction changes things. 

christ-of-the-ozarks-missouri-1968-3
Christ of the Ozarks, Missouri, USA (circa 1965)

                Construction – it is good for US.

Seeing the construction in each of the states we traveled reminded me of the construction that is going on in each one of us, every moment of every day. We don’t have red barrels to tell others of the ongoing construction in our lives, but we are “under construction” nonetheless.  

Scripture teaches us that God loves us and that He gave His Son for us as an atonement for our sin.  This enables us to have confidence that we will be with Him now and forever if we have faith in Jesus Christ and trust Him alone for our salvation. 

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

Romans 5:9-10 ESV

“[I]f you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

Romans 10:9-10 ESV

But, salvation is not the end of the story.  Once we have received Jesus Christ into our heart through faith, we then become “under construction” as the Holy Spirit does His work in transforming us into the image of our Lord.  I have heard it said “God loves us as we are, but he doesn’t want us to stay this way!”  In other words, He desires that we be changed into the image of His Son. 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:2 ESV

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Romans 8:29 ESV

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

Praise the Lord that we are “under construction”.  We are lovingly being transformed by God from our sinful, earthly desires, impulses, thoughts, actions and words into the image of our Lord.  But it takes time!  While we are justified with God immediately upon our receiving the Lord Jesus as our Savior,  the transformation into the image of the Lord is not an instantaneous occurrence.

A song written by Sim Wilson entitled “Please be patient with me” captures the concept well:  

Chorus:

Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet.

Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet.

When God gets through with me, when God gets through with me,

I shall come forth, I shall come forth like pure gold.

Verse:

If you should see me and I’m not walking right,

And if you should hear me and I’m not talking right;

Please remember what God has done for me, 

When He gets through with me, I’ll be what He wants me to be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yjsTLpo_vQ

This transformation does not occur through our own efforts.  It does not come about through our own strength by struggling to keep all the commandments or by trying to copy good things that we see others doing. 

This construction comes from the Holy Spirit’s work inside of us.  It is an inward change.  It is a change of our heart and of our will. In fact it is a total surrender of our own will to that of our Father.

Praise the Lord that He is transforming us as we live our life in grace through the Holy Spirit.  Rest in Him and He will perform His good work in you.

Please be patient with me! 

When He gets through with me, I’ll be what He wants me to be!

 

Father, I thank You for sending the Holy Spirit into our world so that He would work in the life of each of Your children, transforming them into the image of Your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

GOOD AND BAD TOGETHER?

We found this interesting vehicle on display when we visited the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.  See the post PUSHMI-PULLYU – INDECISION IS HARMFUL! that was posted April 26, 2016 for more information about our visit to the Museum and this interesting vehicle.

Lane Motor Museum double car
Firemen’s vehicle, Cogolin, France.

At first glance, I thought it was interesting that it seemed to have front headlights on the back end as well as at the front.  Upon a more focused look at the vehicle, I realized that it was two front halves put together.

Lane Motor Museum double car inside
Close up view of the two front ends of the Firemen’s vehicle, Cogolin, France.

Fairly odd looking, I have to say.  Obviously, this would be impossible to drive if both “front ends” were engaged at the same time.  Yet, on a spiritual basis, this is what we do all the time in connection with the irreconcilable contrast between “good and evil”.

We affirmatively state that God is good.  Indeed, we know that goodness is one of God’s attributes. 

“And [God] said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” 

Exodus 33:19 ESV

For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!.”

Zechariah 9:17 ESV

The Apostle Paul even notes that goodness is part of the fruit of the Spirit which we are to grow in our own hearts and minds as we allow Him to transform us into the likeness of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”

Galatians 5:22 ESV

The reality for us, however, is that goodness is not what we see on a daily basis in either ourselves or our world.  Rather than goodness, we see evil, selfishness, pride, injustice, violence, hatred, and hurt.  In short, we see sin, disobedience to God’s Word, in both our own life and in the life of our community and the world.

It is the height of arrogance to think that mankind is good.  A review of the daily headlines shows that this is not the case.   That same arrogance produces the thought that we are good at any time … even our best “good deeds” are described in Scripture as “filthy rags”.   Isaiah 64:6 [KJV].

Dr. R. C. Sproul says:

Sin is cosmic treason.  Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign.  It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.  Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo?  What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God.  We are saying “God, Your law is not good.  My judgment is better than Yours.  Your authority does not apply to me.  I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction.  I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.” 

The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority.  It is a revolutionary act, a rebellious act in which we are setting ourselves in opposition to the One to whom we owe everything.  It is an insult to His holiness.

R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 115-116 (Emphasis is mine)

So, we know that we are not good and that sin and evil abounds in and around us.  But we then argue that if God is good, it would appear that God is not watching, He doesn’t care, or He is incapable of helping us in a world that is so full of evil.  While some feel this way, I suggest that the opposite is true.  Turning to Dr. Sproul’s comments again, he says:

… He [God] is so slow to anger that when His anger does erupt, we are shocked and offended by it.  We forget rather quickly that God’s patience is designed to lead us to repentance, to give us time to be redeemed.  Instead of taking advantage of this patience by coming humbly to Him for forgiveness, we use this grace as an opportunity to become more bold in our sin.  We delude ourselves into thinking that either God doesn’t care about it, or that He is powerless to punish us.  … The supreme folly is that we think we will get away with our revolt.

R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 117 (Emphasis is mine)

When it appears that God is not working in our world, the reality is that He is waiting.  He is exercising His patience.  He is allowing evil to continue because there are those who have not yet recognized the Spirit’s conviction of sin and who have not yet received the gift of salvation through faith in Christ alone. 

Can evil/sin exist with good/holiness?  The answer to this inquiry is an emphatic “no!”   Sinful mankind cannot appear before the Holy God who is the essence of goodness.  But through Jesus Christ, God has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sin and washed in the righteousness of His Son. 

christ-of-the-ozarks-missouri-1968-3
Christ of the Ozarks, Missouri, USA (circa 1965)

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 ESV

If God were to wipe out all evil, those who have not yet received Jesus Christ as their Savior would be lost forever.  Thus, God waits patiently until all His children have come to Him.  .  Paul says in Romans:

“Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2:4 ESV

For a time, it may appear that people are successful in their revolt against God and His Anointed One.  For a time, it may appear that evil has won the battle and that God is helpless to give aid or comfort to His people. 

Beloved, this is a delusion, a fiction of the highest magnitude.

When God slams down His gavel in judgment of all mankind, there will be no time then for people to confess their sin and to receive the gift of salvation.  The time of God’s mercy will be over.  His patient waiting will be completed.  At that point it will be the time of judgment. 

“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

1 John 3:7-8 ESV

Don’t be double minded.  Goodness and evil/righteousness and sin/light and dark cannot coexist.   Look to Jesus Christ, confess your sin, receive His righteousness and live then in goodness and light, through His power alone.

Father, cleanse my heart from its sin and double-mindedness.  Enable me, through Your Spirit, to live my life in dedication to You and to Your will.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, my God and my Redeemer.

 

UNITY – THE CALL FOR ALL CHRISTIANS

In these post-election days, it seems to me that, especially with the polarization in our country even among those calling on the name of the Lord, we need to be reminded of the fact that, as Christians, we all have just one Lord. 

Some people may look to the law as their god.

law-courts-building-winnipeg-manitoba-canada
The Law Courts Building in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (circa 1960)

Some people may focus on liberty, particularly their own personal liberty to do as they wish.

statue-of-liberty
The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, USA.

For some, their god is fame and fortune, amassing financial wealth.  For others, their family is their god.  All these gods, and many more, have been around in various personas for centuries, yea millennia.

But for the Christian, there is one God, and only One.

Paul addresses this when he writes in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6:

For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”– yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

 

christ-of-the-ozarks-missouri-1968-3
Christ of the Ozarks, Missouri, USA (circa 1965)

 

He is one Lord who is God Almighty, the triune Godhead in three persons, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

In Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul states:

There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptismone God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 

For those who belong to Jesus Christ, He is the Lord of each one of us.  There is one Body of Christ, and each person naming the name of Christ as Savior is part of that same Body.  While we may have various forms of worship, of baptism, of missions, there is one Spirit dwells within each Christian, and each Christian has that same Spirit.

I don’t think unity in Christ means that we lose our individuality or that we must be clones of each other.  If we think of the body analogy that Paul often uses, the thumb is not the same as the knee, and the eyes are not the same as the ears, yet it all is one body. 

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.  For the body does not consist of one member but of many. …  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. … If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 20, 26-27.

 

So, the Body of Christ is composed of very different persons, of various ethnicity, and divergent life experiences but we are united into the Body of Christ. 

Now, if you know anything about me, you will know that I don’t like confrontation, violence or argument (not exactly the temperament you would expect in an attorney, but the Lord facilitated that career!).  I don’t do movies with violence to people or explosions coming out of the blue, even if they are award winning productions.  I just would rather not watch that kind of thing.

But, give me talking animals, animation, or musicals, I’m all in!  For example, the movie Babe, or The Incredibles, or Shrek, or Ice Age, or Sound of Music, those are high in my repertoire.  

When we became grandparents, we wanted to have something that taught Christian values in a unique way, and we heard about VeggieTales.  So, we looked at them and before long we were VeggieTale aficionados! 

One of the songs that the creators of VeggieTales wrote for the album entitled “Oh Veggie, Where Art Thou?” in which the characters are broadcasting Grandpa Bob’s Old Time Radio Show, is a song entitled “One Lord”.  According to the story line, a missionary comes to tell the VeggieTale characters, and their radio audience, of his life on the mission field, and in so doing he sings this song.  The studio audience participates in the song as it provides an hilarious litany of Protestant Denominations in which names are combined in a mixed up form, all in an attempt to illustrate that while we are many, we really are just One in Christ.

 

I pray that you will enjoy hearing this song and that its message will encourage all of us to come together as one in the Body of Christ.  We don’t need to lose our identity, but we need to keep our focus so that the world will see One Lord in ministry to those around us.

 

Father, help each of us to be your hands and feet as we minister to others in these days of unrest and fear.  Help us to come together in unity as we serve as the Body of Christ in this world.  Help us to honor our differences and unique perspectives even as we unite in love through the one Spirit that indwells each of your children.  Bless us as we serve in your name, through the power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.