Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Transformed Mind

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

- Romans 12:2

Wow, as I read this verse again, I am struck by how little time I really put into renewing my mind and yet that is how we will know what the perfect, good, and acceptable will of God is. It’s so easy for us to believe that we don’t really know what God’s will is in some situations, to reach a place in our lives that we feel stuck, think this “faith” thing doesn’t work, or fall into the trap of adopting a worldly view of life. I realize for me it is because I become distracted, too busy, or sometimes even just too lazy to do what it takes to have His thoughts and desires firmly implanted in to my heart and my mind. That is the only way that I will be able to clearly discern His will, desire to obey His word, and believe fully in His promises.

This verse says that God's will is good, acceptable and perfect. I wonder at times if we really believe it, or are we afraid that God's plans for us will be boring or unfulfilling. Are we afraid His plans might be too limiting, difficult, or uncomfortable? Anything that is good, acceptable, and perfect for us in God's eyes has got to be exciting and fulfilling! If God who is full of grace and truth, wise and loving, powerful and mighty, designed a life plan that is best for us, how can we not trust that? Maybe during the times we’re rebellious towards God's plan, we are really questioning His character more than His plan. The truth is that God is absolutely good and there is no evil intention anywhere in His being! He does all things well! That means His plans are still good, acceptable, and perfect, even when they are "hard." His plans do include weeding out what is unholy in us, producing peaceable fruit of righteousness in us, which can be uncomfortable. However in the long run our lives will become more fulfilling once the weeds are out.

We need to take time to honestly discern if we really want to know God's will. Sometimes we don’t because we are rebellious and sense our own will is clashing with the Lord's will. The only solution for that is honest confession and asking God to align your will with His. This is like a wrestling match where you express your doubts, wants, pride, ambivalence, and needs honestly to Him, then allow Him to transform your heart.

It also helps to understand what it means to be conformed. Biblically it means to be pushed into a mold. Paul is telling us not to let the outward pressures of the world mold us. Yet, I wonder how many of our decisions that we make about makeup, dress, speech, purity, and actions are molded by what we see in our culture and by our desire to be accepted by others? Ironically, many who say they want to be their own person are becoming a clone of others in their social group. This verse also tells us to be "transformed by the renewing of our minds. That means to be changed from the inside out. Transformed is from the same Greek word used to describe Christ when He was "transfigured" before his disciples. The glory of His deity shone through His humanity! To be transformed by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us is to let Him shine through us! One way we can do that to do that is to express our "doubts" and our "buts" to Him. "Buts" are those things that we think that put distance between God and us. For example, God says in Colossians to put away our anger. Our "buts" might be "I don't want to." "You don't know how much they hurt me." "I want to get even for what they said." When I express my "buts" to God, He often impresses scripture on my mind. He may say something like: "I know it hurt when they lied, people lied about me, too. Tell Me about your hurt and I will heal it, but I want you to forgive as I forgave you. When you forgive, you reflect me to others. You are the "only Bible" these people will “read” and I have called you to love them and to reveal my heart to them."

As we read God's word and pray about it begins to permeate our souls and change our core beliefs. Reading doctrinal truths deepens our understanding of God’s character. If we read a narrative passage about Christ relating to people, we learn how He wants us to relate to others. As we get to know Him our love for Him will grow and our relationship with Him will affect our dress, speech, actions and reactions more than the world does.

Does your dress, speech, actions, and reactions reflect the world or do they reflect that you know you are loved, treasured and completely accepted by God? Do they reflect the fact that you are a daughter of the king or Kings and that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Do they reflect a heart and mind that has been transformed by His word? What do your clothes say about your values? What do your emotions, behavior, and thoughts reveal about your heart? When we saturate our minds with His word we will reflect Him more. Instead of avoiding His truth, we need to continue to develop transparency with God and the willingness to wrestle with His truth and His will like Jacob and Christ did. That wrestling will help to fully make His will our own. (Matthew 23 and Genesis 32) Being transformed from the inside may not always be comfortable, but the result is having God's beautiful glory shining through our humanity! There is nothing more beautiful that a woman who is walking close enough to God, that His glory shines through.

Father, please help us allow your words to transform us into the women you have designed us to be. When the world is crowding in and trying to mold us, help us to be strong and refuse to let it mold us into something you did not design us to be. Thank you for your perfect will and for making it possible for us to know it. Thank you for loving us and wanting a relationship with us so much that you would die for us. Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!