Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Lesson from the Caterpillar

Everyone knows that the butterfly is first a caterpillar, but have you ever really thought about  how this transformation happens?  As beautiful and serene as the butterfly is when it emerges from its cocoon, the process of becoming a butterfly is anything but beautiful and serene.  When a caterpillar is full grown, it begins the transformation process by secreting a liquid that forms a silk-like thread that the caterpillar uses to attach the lower half of its body to a leaf or a stick.  The caterpillar then spins this silk-like thread to cover its entire body.  Once inside the cocoon, the caterpillar actually digests itself, leaving only a few cells and tissues that will eventually become a butterfly.  The entire process takes about four weeks and when the transformation is complete, the butterfly emerges from the cocoon.  The creature that emerges from the cocoon no longer resembles a caterpillar.  It is no longer classified as a caterpillar.  The species that went into the cocoon inched along the ground, across leaves and along twigs, moving slowly running the risk of being destroyed by outside forces.  The species that emerges from the cocoon now spreads its wings and flies, liberated from the things that restricted the caterpillar!  So what lesson, you may ask can we learn from the caterpillar?  It is really very simple, the caterpillar will never be able to leave the ground and fly unless it loses its life and becomes a butterfly.  Jesus said " If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it." Matthew 16 :25 CEV.  If we are ever to become all that God calls us to be, the first thing we must be willing to do is die.  That part of being a Christian is never easy, because much like the caterpillar's dying process, our old man's dying process is not pretty.  Our old nature goes kicking and screaming into death.  Many times, the dying process for our old man is a lot like the Whack-a-Mole game you find in the arcade; every time you think he's done, he pops up in another area of the new man's life.  The key is to stay on the cross, in the tomb...on the altar until that old man is completely dead.  If  a caterpillar stays in the cocoon and digests itself, a new creature emerges. If we stay on the altar, if we endure the dying process, a new creature emerges..."Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new." 2 Cor. 5:17 ASV.  As Christians, when we come off the altar, when the dying process is complete, we should no longer resemble the old man.  Like the caterpillar, we should be a new creature, one that resembles the resurrected Christ!  Our problem is that we don't want to die, but dying is exactly what it takes for Christ to be able to use us.  Paul gave up everything to follow Christ, he left behind his reputation as one who persecuted Christians, he let go of his spot on the Sanhedrin, he forgot about the prestige of being a student of the great teacher Gamaliel.  Paul climbed up on the cross and stayed there until he was able to say, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me." Gal. 2:20 ASV.  Like the caterpillar, Paul was willing to exchange what he had, go through an often painful process in order to gain something greater on the other side.  So here's my advice dearly loved ones, let's take a lesson from the caterpillar, go ahead, and climb up on the cross, or the altar and give ourselves over to the dying process.  We will never become all that God wants, all that Christ died to give us until we do.  Remember, on the other side of the cocoon, the "new creature" that was the caterpillar never again crawls on the ground or inches its way along a twig! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Shifting Your Focus

It has been a while since I last posted on my blog, but that is about to change.  You see, I have had a wilderness season that has taken my focus away from who God called me to be!  In the early hours of this morning, a dear friend and sister in Christ sent me a New Year's text that included a word from God that said, "Change your focus and take it to another level!" To be completely honest, I did not really want to concern myself with what God was saying because I hadn't been really "feeling" Him lately.  I guess the fact that I reached my 16th "born again" birthday might have had a little something to do with it :-) maybe I'd reached my rebellious teenager stage and didn't really care to hear what "Dad" had to say...In any case, when I received this text from my friend it was absolutely "A Word in Season"!  What it made me realize was that I had changed my focus over the past couple of years.  I have opened doors in my life that I thought long closed! (side note...I guess the Apostle Paul would say that there is a very big difference between closing a door and "considering yourself dead...") Whatever the case, those words from my dear sister, "change your focus" helped me to see that I had in fact lost focus. You see, in my effort to go after the things that I felt like I "deserved," I shifted my focus in a way that changed me!  I entered into relationships that were not "reciprocal" and by that I mean I was the one doing the giving, the pouring into, the making adjustments and compromises!  That is not what God wants for us, it is not what He asks from us; "Come near to God, and he will come near to you." James 4:8 CEV; "Be humble in the presence of God’s mighty power, and He will honor you when the time comes." 1 Peter 5:6 CEV.  Both these scriptures imply a reciprocal relationship.  God our Father says, if you come near to Me, I will come near to you...and when God draws near to us He does not come just to come, as I Peter 5 demonstrates!  We find evidence of the reciprocal relationship between us and God throughout the scriptures, "Do what the Lord wants, and he will give you your heart’s desire." Ps. 37:4 CEV; “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God..." Deut. 28:1-2 NKJV.  There are so many more examples in the word of God about the exchange that takes place between us and God.  So what does any of this have to do with changing your focus you might ask, well I have an answer for you...You see, when we take our focus off of God, the relationship is no longer reciprocal, God doesn't change, He doesn't stop being God but we are no longer meeting His needs!  God created man because He wanted fellowship, He wanted sons and daughters and even though He always does His part, when we don't do our part, we hurt him!  Can you imagine that?  We hurt God, the Omnipotent, all powerful Creator of all things!  The same thing happens to us when we enter into relationships that are not reciprocal.  Our focus becomes so much about someone else and their needs that we fail to see that we are being hurt!  If we are not saved, we become hurt and damaged and we carry this baggage and it spills over into other relationships.  If we are saved, these relationships create distance between us and God, it fills us with guilt, and causes us to doubt God's love for us!  So dear ones, this VERY long blog today is about doing a spiritual "eye exam"  see where your focus is, have you shifted your focus from God the Father?  Has this shift in focus caused you to enter into relationships that are not reciprocal?  If so, allow the Holy Spirit to show you this, let Him work in you and allow Him to cut off those things, relationships, people that draw out of you without ever pouring in to you. That's what I plan to do!  Remember my dearly loved friends, look to our relationship with the Everlasting God as our template, there is ALWAYS an exchange of mutual benefit in good, positive relationships!  I love you all, and we will talk MUCH MORE in 2013!