All posts tagged heaven

TRANSFORMED


Not long ago as a result of her transformation, Caitlyn Jenner was thrust into the spotlight and according to the sports network ESPN, instantaneously became one of the great “heroes” of our time for coming out as a woman in a man’s body.

Jenner claims to have been confused about his/her gender identity since earliest youth but finally mustered the courage to make an outward change more accurately reflecting the true inner self clothed in the wrong body.

My purpose is not to degrade Jenner or to even enter into judgment about the gender decisions made, but to use this situation as an illustration of something deeper and far more widespread than we imagine.  Who are you – really?

Principally we are a living soul housed in a physical body. We read in the first book of the Bible that “God created us as a living soul.” God freely offers all of us the opportunity to be truly TRANSFORMED in even a more dramatic fashion than anything Jenner has embraced or even considered. This truth is vitally relevant to all of us and can forever change you into someone entirely new.

It is generally acknowledged that we are more than mere animals at the top of the food chain. In fact, Christian Scripture declares that we are the height of God’s creation and embody His image in that we are Body, Soul and Spirit – 3 parts in the image of the triune God who created us.

“God made man and breathed into him and he became a living soul.”

~ Genesis 2:7 ~

When man fell from his original perfect state by asserting his independence from God, his soul was condemned and he was utterly lost.  All of humankind was banned from God’s presence and heaven forever.  Even worse, we are now unable to remedy this calamity on our own; just as a sick person cannot heal themselves without outside intervention from a physician. We now need an external source of help to bring us back to God and our intended relationship with Him. We cannot fix ourself by trying harder. We need a Savior to come to our aid.

Jenner is trying to do what all of us try to do… to fill the emptiness inside by making external changes, but this is a futile quest.  We must be made over from the inside out, not the outside in.  We need a spiritual adjustment.  We must be transformed… from what we are … to what we were meant to be and can become again. We must be made over into something new and only God has the power to do that.

Do you have desires you cannot control or maybe a habit that dominates your life, or an insecurity that makes you react too strongly? We all have something we want to change about ourself. The question we must ask is; “How can I make that change?”

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creature.  The old things are passed away and now everything has become new.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Jesus was God incarnate (God in a human body). It was God’s plan to become a man, enter human history, show us what we were intended to be like, sacrifice His perfect life in payment for our imperfect life and defeat death on our behalf so that whoever put their trust in Him could be transformed into something new – both inwardly and outwardly. Through Jesus Christ alone, we can be made new and be restored to our intended relationship with our Heavenly Father. Are you willing to let Him transform you?

“Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the father except through me.” ~ ~ John 14:6 ~

How can we be transformed? It’s very simple … We must acknowledge our need, tell God we are sorry for our independence and ask Him to save us from the certain eternal separation that awaits all those who go their own way apart from Him.

Two things happen when we are transformed

  1. Our standing before God is transformed. We get a new beginning and fresh start.  It’s a free ‘do-over’ from God: A gift which Jesus paid for and freely gives to us, just for asking. When we receive Christ as our Savior, God now sees the perfection of Jesus instead of our rebellion and independence. As followers of Christ, we literally “put on” Jesus like a covering over our sin and it is hidden forever!
  2. Our current condition and state of being are transformed. God changes our:  1.) will (we will want new things); 2.) intellect (we will think in new ways); and 3). emotion (we will respond differently than before).

In summary, God makes us over.  We still live in an imperfect and fallen world, but we ourselves and our future are being and will be forever changed.

“I beg you brothers that you present your body to Christ as a living sacrifice – holy and acceptable to God. And do not be conformed to this world (don’t let it press you into its mold),  but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may demonstrate what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” ~ Romans 12:1-2

RUN THE RACE GOD HAS SET BEFORE YOU!

“But after God’s Spirit comes upon you, you shall receive power and you will be my witnesses wherever you go.” ~ Acts 1:8

T – take your problems to God.  He loves you!

R – remember that you are unable to solve your issues without external help from God.

A – ask Jesus to be your Savior. Confess your sin and turn your back on it. That is why Christ suffered and died on

the cross.

N – never despair. When you are feeling defeated – go to God for strength and encouragement.

S – sin no more.  Tell God that you are determined to follow his ways and allow Him to set you free.

F – forget your failures in the past.  Jesus gives you a new start.

O – offer encouragement to others.  No matter how bad our situation may be, there is always someone who is even

more in need of help than we are.

R – rejoice in your deliverance.  Thank God for coming to your aid.

M – memorize a few Bible verses that will keep you on track. Claim God’s promises as true in your life no matter how

things may appear on the surface.

E – expect a miraculous change to take place. Miracles are God’s specialty.

D – demonstrate your transformation by your obedience to God and by following Him daily.

Wouldn’t you rather be what GOD can change you into? Trust Him to transform you.  All you need to do is ask.

“Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” ~ Romans 10:13. Acts 2:21, Joel 2:32 

PRAY A PRAYER LIKE THIS FROM YOUR LIPS TO GOD’S EARS

God in Heaven, I confess my sin and need for a Savior.  I realize that only You can truly transform me and make me over into what You want me to be.  Please come into my heart right now and transform me.  I believe You will change me inside and out.  I ask all of this in the powerful name of Jesus Christ Your Son.

My Funeral

I am told that Billy Graham had at one time expressed a desire to make a video addressing those who might attend his funeral some day; because he wanted to be sure the gospel would be clearly presented on that occasion. They were even talking about conducting the service at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and had the service all worked out in great detail.  In keeping with this type of planning and organization, I actually have a file of ideas that I have been collecting for my eventual funeral.  Today I added a few more great notes that I hope my family will honor when I am looking down from eternity.

I have repeatedly gone on record saying that I wanted my funeral to be a very sad occasion with worldwide media coverage.  They will probably need to have an advance press conference, a press table, and wait several days to hold the service to enable media representatives to travel to Dallas from various parts of the globe.

To set the proper mood, my funeral should be scheduled on a cold rainy day at about 4pm on a Thursday. I say that because I want it to be the last thing my friends do before they go home so they can continue to reflect on my passing the rest of the evening. I would prefer that they do not watch any TV that night and perhaps fast for the remainder of the day.

At the funeral, I want the dress code strictly enforced to show the proper respect.  Everyone attending will be required to wear black or they will not be admitted to the inner sanctum but relegated to the overflow seating in the parking lot.  No bright colors will be allowed.  The service would probably be held at Cowboy’s Stadium to accommodate the crowd. Otherwise if a smaller venue is all that is available (say 15,000 seating capacity like a large Baptist Church) multiple services might be needed and this would be unfair to all those who want to attend the big event .  Of course the major networks would bid for rights to provide a live feed to ‘pay-for-view’ TV.  The money raised would be given to find the cure for whatever had killed me.  And we would provide huge screens situated around the facility to give the live audience maximum viewing enjoyment of this powerfully moving event.

There would be no charge for those who came so “see me off in person” as a final gesture of my magnanimity.  To offset the costs of this extravaganza and allow more to go toward charity, souvenirs and 8×10 color shots of the service highlights and me would be sold on the way out.  A magnificent eight-color program would be sold to attendees with sponsorships by major corporations.  The contents of the program would highlight all of my life’s greatest accomplishments and feature testimonials by world leaders and celebrities who had known me.

I request that flowers be piled high around the exterior of the stadium but left outside to facilitate the maximum seating capacity inside.

All the men whom I have impacted over the years would assemble to participate in the service. They would be dressed in identical black tuxedos (no tails) with grey cravats, black square-toe zip boots and white gloves, but no hats.  They must be clean shaven with fresh haircuts or we cannot include them.  It would be their job to line the aisles all across the stadium and seat guests as they arrive.  During the musical portion of the service I would like the Temptations and the O’Jays to sing and these many men to dance in the aisles in unison as back-up to the music.  The audience would be required to remain seated and no onlookers would be allowed to come up to my casket at this time because the crowd could become unruly.  Opportunity to pay homage will be given later at the conclusion of the service.

Seating and staging will be in the round.  The very first thing the audience would hear as the service commences would be a tremendous pipe organ playing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The sound will fill the place with sacred vibrations and focus the audience on what is about to take place. Then everyone in the audience will stand and the platform guests and participants will take their place and THE HOUSE WILL BECOME SILENT. The lights will dim and A LONE BAGPIPER WILL LEAD THE PROCESSION as it wails “Amazing Grace.”  My casket will be carried to center stage by 10 pallbearers selected by an anonymous committee to avoid any resentment or retaliation by those not chosen.  A single white spotlight will follow the procession as many swoon and weep.  Ushers will be careful to assist onlookers who are overwhelmed with emotion.  Nearby hospitals and ambulances will be on the ready as needed.

I will repose in my elaborately decorated and bejeweled golden casket.  It will be opened so I can be kissed on the check.  I will have on a brown houndstooth sportcoat with a top pocket full of gospel tracts I have written and a placard over the pocket saying “Free. Take One!”

Ha!  Ridiculous!  None of this will ever happen!

In all seriousness, today I attended the real funeral of a godly woman who went to be with Jesus after a long but hard-fought battle with cancer.  The church was full of those she had impacted.  It was tremendously moving and I was so glad to be there.  As I sat contemplating life, I started thinking about my own death some day.  My thoughts naturally lead to me ruminating on my life and what I was doing with my time and relationships here and now. It was a good worthwhile time of meditation and as a result I came to three important conclusions:

  1. Serve God with a view toward eternity
  2. Love others and invest in them
  3. Live each day to the fullest

My funeral is coming and so is yours.  Will we be ready?  Will it be a celebration of our life or just a period at the end of a long meaningless sentence?  We get to decide now while there is still time…

“I Will Rise”

BY CHRIS TOMLIN

“There’s a peace I’ve come to know.  Though my heart and flesh may fail.  There’s an anchor for my soul.  I can say “It is well.” Jesus has overcome.  And the grave is overwhelmed.  The victory is won.  He is risen from the dead.  [Chorus:]  And I will rise when He calls my name.  No more sorrow, no more pain.  I will rise on eagles’ wings.  Before my God fall on my knees.  And rise.  I will rise.  There’s a day that’s drawing near.  When this darkness breaks to light.  And the shadows disappear.  And my faith shall be my eyes.  Jesus has overcome.  And the grave is overwhelmed.  The victory is won.  He is risen from the dead.  [Chorus:]  And I will rise when He calls my name.  No more sorrow, no more pain.  I will rise on eagles’ wings.  Before my God fall on my knees.  And rise.  I will rise.  And I hear the voice of many angels sing,  “Worthy is the Lamb.”  And I hear the cry of every longing heart,  “Worthy is the Lamb.”  [x2] [Chorus:]  And I will rise when He calls my name.  No more sorrow, no more pain.  I will rise on eagles’ wings.  Before my God fall on my knees.  And rise  I will rise.”

“I consider my life worth nothing to me, my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Acts 20:24