Under Renovation

I enjoy the “before” and “after” photos of home renovations, like these pictures of the Kuppersmith Project from “Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford”.

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While Lipford renovates homes, God renovates lives. It’s exciting stuff, having the project manager of all project managers in charge of our renovations. He has great vision. There’s nothing too deteriorated, neglected, vandalized, rotted, overgrown, or overwhelming for him to take on. He’ll transform, overhaul, overthrow, release, clean, guide, counsel … you name a problem and he has a solution. In time, our “after” photos show a remarkable transformation.

But keep in mind that any pictures snapped in the middle of renovation may not appear representative of the vision. Restoration can involve some serious demolition and removal. Outdated wiring, lead paint, and asbestos must be removed. Rotted windows and damaged drywall have to go. It sometimes looks worse before it looks better.

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Cut yourself some slack if you’re in the middle of renovation. Relax your expectations of others too. Don’t judge a person’s status by his temporary mess, or his newly stripped-down, skeletal life. He may be the most yielded, willing, “I’m all in” person God has partnered with in a long while. His renovation may be the most exciting project God has directed for ages. Only God and he know his heart, just as only God and you know your own.

Hang in there with the project manager of all project managers. If you are willing, he has a great vision, a detailed blueprint, and a skilled crew at work restoring your life. You can be certain that you will be deeply satisfied with your “after” pictures.

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“Be made new in the attitude of your minds.” Ephesians 4:23 (NIV)

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (New Living Translation)

Truth Is Our Friend

Nobody likes unwanted news. We don’t want to believe that a diagnosis is dire, or our behaviors are destructive. We don’t like to hear that someone important to us is not who we thought they were — we won’t accept that a person we’re invested in is a thief, a traitor, an adulterer, or an abuser. Some of us will do anything to avoid unwanted truths like these.

To cope personally, or to save face publicly, we spin or outright deny the facts — it’s remarkable how spectacularly we pull off mental contortionism in our quest to disguise them.

Which is silly if you stop and think about it. No amount of distortion, denial, fabrication, justification, deflection, or delusionment will ever change truth. Like it or not, truth is what it is.

Isn’t it a marvel that people who initially choose deceit out of shame or inability to cope, quickly progress to actually believing their own lies? They developed habits of deceitfulness, and expect others to adopt their deluded thinking. They slipped unaware into a lifestyle of lies, then wonder why they are off-putting to others. Their relationships, home, work and social lives suffer. Ever so insidiously, their physical and mental health are impacted. Persistence in untruths only compounded their troubles.

All of that extra web of entanglement could have been avoided. The truth would have set them free, and kept them free. As difficult as it seemed, even those truths they despised were best acknowledged and dealt with.

The good news is, it’s never too late to start fresh. And none of us has to do it alone — God will come alongside us to bravely handle even the most agonizing of truths. The benefits of trusting him to do so are immeasurable, including freedom from mental and emotional turmoil. If we want and allow him to, he will transform our tangled thinking into healthy truthfulness.

He will accomplish it in a way and at a speed that is best for each of us. If we need to slowly come face-to-face with painful, difficult facts, he’ll do it slowly. If we need swift and full immersion in unmitigated reality, he’ll do that instead. He knows us intimately, and much, much more than we know ourselves — if we allow him to, he’ll do what is best for us. He’ll personalize his perfect intervention, knowing and understanding fully why we accumulated all of our ridiculous dysfunctions.

Let God peel back the layers of amassed issues that were caused by untruths. Wait on him. Be at peace with not always understanding everything as he exposes and corrects wrong-thinking, and assists us in developing new, factual, healthy thought patterns and behaviors.

Trust that he is at work upending the chaos that chronic lies caused, for our long-term good. That’s the truth of it — truth is always our friend.

John 8:32 – “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Philippians 4:19 – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

When Confounded Is Good

Sometimes our beliefs fail us. Sometimes that’s a good thing.

If we consider all our current views or theologies solid but God disagrees, it’s an improvement to be confounded. When our old patterns of thinking are disrupted, it’s an opportunity for God to show us his thoughts. While we’re grappling with uncertainty, our understanding can be corrected.

The Apostle Paul wrote: Romans 12: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

When we become flustered by life; when we are confused, agitated, and wish we could feel solid again, let God be the one to solidify those rattled foundations. Rather than return to the old, allow his Holy Spirit and Word to instruct instead.

What if we still don’t get it? — We try but can’t land on solid understanding of God’s will and ways? God cares more that we want to please and obey him, than if we know how to do it. The wanting is of the will. If we don’t want him, what can he do? He won’t overcome our wills. As long as we are willing, he will add his power to accomplish what we can’t.

David’s selection by Samuel to become Israel’s first king over his more respected brothers, is a good example. God led Samuel to choose David because David’s will was with and not against God. All the essential extras that were required for David to take his seat on the throne would come over the years, as God taught him in the classroom of life. In time, David became the man for the throne.

So stay willing before God. Don’t fret about inadequacies and limitations. The want to is there — the rest will happen as we each work out our own salvations.

Paul also wrote in his letter to the Philippians 2: 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Many of us are incredibly busy, and it seems difficult to “work at” God things also. But maybe it shouldn’t feel like work at all. Maybe it could be a relationship we value and prioritize, not because we have to, but because we want to.

I pray God becomes irresistible to each of us, so instead of work, it is a great joy to communicate with him about the big and small details of our daily lives.