Brokenness to Beauty

Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life


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God’s Delights, Our Delights

I feel good when I’m creating something with my hands. There is an interesting phenomenon I became aware of one day several years ago while working on a project. I don’t remember what I was working on or even when or where this realization first came to me. But it was an actual physical sensation of pleasure radiating from inside me. An “inner smile” is the best way I can describe it. It comes unexpectedly when I stop to take a break from working on the item or when I finish a project. And when I sense that inner smile, it makes me smile on the outside too.

It has come at times when I’ve written a piece that has come together through struggle (as most of my writing comes). But when I found the words that were “right,” that resonated in my soul, there was that smile coming from the inside.

More often, though, I’ve sensed that inner smile of pleasure when I’ve been caught up in the creative process using my hands. It has come while creating a mosaic, adhering pieces of broken or cut glass into designs on a substrate. Or like the other day, when I was gluing a paper dust cover onto the back of an old 30″X 40″ frame I had refinished. This frame now holds a large filet crochet piece I crocheted over the course of several years, and a couple of moves across the country (from California to Georgia to West Virginia, a long time ago).

This inner smile I experience, this pleasure at doing something creative, not only causes me to smile outwardly but makes me think of the pleasure of God, that is, the pleasure God takes in his children when we are being and doing what is right and good, in love, reverence, and trust in him.

I started looking for just a few Scriptures that speak to what brings God pleasure and found these (this is not an exhaustive list, of course):

I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. (1 Chronicles 29:17 ESV, emphasis added)

Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB, emphasis added)

His delight is not in the strength of the horse,

nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,

11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,

    in those who hope in his steadfast love. (Psalm 147:10-11 ESV, emphasis added)

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV, emphasis added)

At that very time (Jesus) rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” (Luke 10:21 NASB, emphasis added)

Doesn’t it make you smile inside, and out, to read some of the things that bring joy, delight, and pleasure to our God? Think of it, we don’t have to be superheroes or wildly gorgeous or do some great feat of strength or daring to please him (sounds like what the world goes after, doesn’t it?). We don’t even have to be “wise and intelligent” in this world to bring joy to our Father. Maybe a sigh of relief is more accurate as a response to what God values and seeks in his children. Because I’m sure not any of those things.

To bring joy to our heavenly Father we only need be like little children in our simplicity and humility, loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind. And loving and treating others the way we want to be treated (Matthew 22:37–39; 7:12). “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets,” Jesus said (Matthew 22:40). In other words, these two commands of God are the Bible in a nutshell (Romans 13:8–10).

And since God has given us everything we need to live a godly life in Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1:3), we can do this, we can make God smile. He’s given us his Spirit to live in us; “Christ in [us] the hope of glory.”

I’m working on cooperating with God. And learning. It’s my life goal to bring a smile to my Father’s face.

We don’t have to be rich, or good-looking, or famous, or smart, or … anything except actively loving God by “abiding in him,” which is obeying his word, and loving one another (John 14:15; 15:10, 12).

So our response to our gracious and merciful God should include these elements (again, this is not an exhaustive list):

Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Jesus, in Luke 10:20 ESV, emphasis added)

Your words were found and I ate them,

And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;

For I have been called by Your name,

O Lord God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 NASB, emphasis added)

In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. (1 Chronicles 29:17 ESV, emphasis added)

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2 HCSB, emphasis added)

Trust in the Lord and do what is good …

4 Take delight in the Lord,

and He will give you your heart’s desires.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in Him, and He will act,

6 making your righteousness shine like the dawn,

your justice like the noonday. (Psalm 37:3-6 HCSB)

As I said, this is not an exhaustive list. You can add to it Scriptures that come to mind about what God values and delights in. Consider setting a goal for your Scripture reading in 2018 to look for these sorts of verses that clearly state what gives God joy and pleasure. And make being and doing those things your life goal. I guarantee that will give you an “inner smile” of pleasure.

May your New Year be filled with God’s delight in you!

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Goliaths and Greater Things

Picking up with the topic I started before my last post, Interlude of Fun in the Twilight Zone: David was faithful in his everyday, ordinary life as a shepherd, guiding and guarding the sheep, sometimes at great personal risk fighting lions and bears. It was there, in his everyday life that he grew strong wielding the weapons of his trade–the staff and sling and stones–and he grew strong in faith in God. He knew God and could confidently say, “the LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear …” (see I Samuel 17).

We too live ordinary, everyday lives. We too face our lions and bears, those trials and difficulties that come into our lives, perhaps threatening our livelihood, our families or even our very lives with health problems. These are the enemies that come to defeat us, enemies that threaten to destroy us.

Repent by jclk8888

Repent by jclk8888

Are we being faithful to fight them with the weapons given us—prayer and praise and the Word of God? Are we becoming adept in their use and growing in strength, growing in our trust in God? Can we say as David did, “the LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear …”

It is only in our ordinary, everyday lives faithfully facing the enemies that would destroy us—our lions and bears—that we learn to fight, becoming skilled and strong.

Ordinary life is where we learn to know and trust the LORD, bringing him glory as we fight our personal enemies. This, too, is where we learn to recognize another kind of enemy: Goliath.

Goliath wasn’t David’s personal enemy and he isn’t ours, though most of us have heard the story in those terms. Goliath is not our personal lion or bear. Oh no. He is a different enemy. Goliath, to be consistent with the text, in I Samuel 17, comes against and defies the armies of the living God; he defies the LORD of Hosts, the Lord Almighty.

Goliath is anything that is contrary to the person and purposes of God and he must be fought with weapons, not of this world, but weapons that have “divine power to demolish strongholds … and everything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God …” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Prayer and praise and the Word of God. These are the powerful weapons that we only become skilled at using in our ordinary, everyday lives fighting our lions and bears. The power of these weapons is spiritual, not of our flesh or the world, not originating with us but with God’s Spirit who lives in us.

When Jesus was on earth he fought many Goliaths. When he was about to leave and return to his Father in heaven he said to his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. … And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. … for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:12-17, NIV, emphasis added).

Jesus obviously expected that we too would fight Goliaths, all over the world. Else what did he mean by saying, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV)? (Notice the triple “and,” not “or.”)

Or this, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)?

The Spirit was given for specific purposes, as we read from the above verses.

The questions we must ask ourselves are:

  1. Do I recognize Goliath when I see him?
  2. When I do see him, do I have the spirit of David that says, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
  3. And do I have the chuztpah to reply to the naysayers as David did, drawing on his experience of trusting God and and finding him faithful to deliver, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine (1 Samuel 17:34-37, NIV, emphasis added).”
  4. Do I have the jealousy for God’s Name that makes me willing to put “skin” in the game, my skin, for his Name and glory?

The greater works we are to do, that Jesus expects us to do, are waiting to be done. They are there waiting for us to step forward, as David did, in the name of the Lord Almighty, that the Father may be glorified in the Son—through us.

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, … and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands’”(1 Samuel 17:45-47).

Let us get stronger every day wielding the weapons of our warfare—prayer and praise and the Word of God—fighting our everyday lions and bears so that we may be strong in the Spirit and fit to recognize and fight Goliath–doing those greater things–for the sake of his Name, for the glory of the Father.

Let us fear God more than men.

How have you fared with your lions and bears? Have you discerned the Goliath that you should be challenging for his Name sake? How is it going? Send me your questions and comments about this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copied from https://www.biblegateway.com

 

 


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Chapter 5: Beyond Me … and You

Even when I feel insignificant, or am tempted to feel that way; when I feel powerless, I am comforted because I am part of something much greater than myself. I can with confidence know I have meaning, there is meaning to my life, my existence on this earth. From that flows joy. I am free to delight in God’s good world, even when things are not altogether right in that world.

The roots of my life, the foundation of my life, are set deeply in the Word of God and the God of the Word. Going back to my roots gives me perspective in the midst of pain and struggle and the fear of the unknown, for the unknown is only unknown to me, not to God. I can rest in his goodness even when I cannot see my way ahead. And I know, based on his eternal Word, that he is working everything together for my good and his glory. His purposes are being worked out through my life even in the midst of all this mess. I do not have to know how that can possibly be. I need only know it is so because of the character of God; he can be trusted. My faith is in him, not in my ability to have all the answers myself.

The war has been won; we must press on faithfully, however, through the remaining skirmishes. Being part of this Something Bigger than ourselves should give us not only perspective and a new focus, but motivation to move ahead in confidence in the God who is the final Victor. I know I want to be on the right side at the culmination of it all.

The above is a snippet from Chapter 5. Though I will not be going into these portions in my blog, in this chapter of Brokenness to Beauty I will discuss topics dealing with the significance of our lives, meaning in life and take us to the book of Job, the quintessential treatise on man’s relationship to God. These are rich fields to be mined. I hope you will investigate them with me as I share these insights in the published book form of chapter 5 of Brokenness to Beauty.


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Chapter 2: Importance of the Bible–Self-pity or Trust?

Self-pity is nothing to trifle with; it is destructive and from the devil, that old deceiver. It must be dealt with immediately and ruthlessly.

Daily I set out for my thirty minute walk. When the weather was clear I could see the mountains—not always the case in southern California—and my heart would rejoice. Having the mountains, or a lake, or the ocean, or even a garden to look at was like refreshment to my soul. I would feel my spirit expand as I drank in the vista. Weights on my spirit seemed to fall off as I realized how big God is and how wonderful His world. I always talked with God as I walked, like we were on a walk together. One day I wrote in my blog:

Just this past week I was walking … and talking with the Lord and asking forgiveness for and strength against self-pity. That is one thing that is so terribly damaging and destructive. I want no part of it. So I have to resist it when it raises its ugly head. I realized that I need to raise my sights and look at God’s bigger world, (its) great needs and His heart of compassion for those suffering. So many are spiritually dead and need life only He can give. So many brothers and sisters in the faith are struggling and suffering terribly. I need to care more, pray more for them …. Perspective.

The Word of God lifts our eyes off ourselves and gives us that new perspective. It elevates our vision to the greater world around us, not the false world of just me.

When difficulties come into our lives we almost immediately want to ask “Why?”, or “Why me?”, or “Why this?” Scripture calls us to wait on (hope in) God and trust completely in Him, seeking His grace to move ahead through the situation.  There are hints in scripture of the “whys” of troubles in our lives, and that they will come, but our concern should be with how we deal with them. It goes back to the act of bowing to God’s Sovereignty, rather than demanding our own way. As much as I want to be in control, I am not, but God is. Getting to that point of trust in God is crucial to maintaining sanity, as I call it, in the midst of suffering.

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India in the early part of the last century, said, “Trust, I have learned, means: to lean on, to place the weight of my confidence upon (Young’s Analytical Concordance) …. And after this discovery, I’ve found many verses in the Psalms that provide great comfort when translated in this way. For instance, ‘I have trusted in (leaned on, placed my confidence in) your lovingkindness’ Psalm 13:5).”[1]

Lean all my weight, place all my confidence in the God who has proven Himself faithful and able to do the impossible. This is what I need to do, especially during the hard times of trouble in my life. Amy Carmichael lived that truth and spoke from the seat of one who suffered. I listen to her.

[1] Amy Carmichael, I Come quietly to Meet You, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2005), 15