What God Sees: Empty Shell or Beautiful Butterfly?

What God Sees: Empty Shell or Beautiful Butterfly?

I had to make a quick trip to Austin for work last week, and since it was last-minute and within driving distance, I decided to skip the flight and hit the road. Within the first hour and a half, I saw the first of a number of things that would not only catch my attention but begin one of two patterns that would continue throughout my eight hour drive (and, yes, that is driving distance in Texas!)

I noticed a large manufacturing plant that had shut down a few years back. It was now just an empty shell of a place. A number of buildings, both small and large, once bustling with people and movement, now sitting silent and motionless.

“What a shame,” I thought to myself. A waste of resources, space, and material. Who knows what will become of that place? It’s especially a shame because of the hundreds of men and women who struggled to find jobs after it had abruptly closed its doors, a number of whom I have met.

One man, Martin (name changed), told me how he had worked there since his teenage years (he was now well into his 60’s), didn’t have any degree or certification and wasn’t sure what he would do or even how he would pay his bills. The local Workforce organization was offering assistance to a lot of these individuals, including paying for education programs, and Martin was supposed to begin one of those in Amarillo, but he never started.

Driving by, I wondered what had happened to him.

As I continued my long drive, I saw a number of houses and buildings that had been abandoned over the years. Gaping holes where windows and curtains used to fill. Overgrown grass and weeds jutted through loose boards and cracked brick.

One town had even re-purposed a building and put up a sign on it welcoming people to their town.

But how do you resurrect something that’s dead and gone? Lifeless? Worthless?

And that’s when it hit me. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Because I want to share with you the other pattern that I began to notice.

I had been listening to a couple of podcasts as I was driving, and after turning them off, I just began to pray, “God, show me what you want me to see today.”

I started to notice butterflies. Lots of butterflies. I’ve driven a lot in my lifetime, and I have to say that I can’t remember a time when I’ve noticed more.

Most of them were flying right in front of my car (and no, no butterflies were harmed in the making of this post).

My daughter loves butterflies and so I thought of her and knew that she would love seeing all of them.

After a couple of hours, both the abandoned buildings and the number of butterflies stood out, so I knew God was trying to tell me something, but I just didn’t make the connection right away.

What could empty houses and abandoned buildings have to do with butterflies? You might already see the connection. I didn’t at first.

I thought about transformation, about metamorphosis. How a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, emerges from its cocoon and flies away. Only to leave what?

An empty shell!

That was the connection. The cocoon. What happens to it once the butterfly leaves?

It’s empty. Hollow. Lifeless.

What once held life is now motionless and silent. Abandoned.

That’s when God began making the connections.

When we put our faith and trust in Jesus, we become a new creation. We’re the butterfly. At least that’s how God sees us in Christ.

Yet, so often, we still see ourselves as the empty shell. Ugly. Worthless. Barren.

Only those are not God’s thoughts toward us.

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2)

What we’re seeing when we look at the empty shell is what Scripture refers to as the Old Man.

What the devil tells us is that is who we still are. God sees so much more.

He sees a new creation because we ARE a new creation. The old is gone. It was crucified with Jesus.

So then why do I still struggle with…

Pride?

Lust?

Porn?

Anger?

Depression?

Self-hate?

Poor self-image?

Imagine a butterfly once emerging from the cocoon trying to re-enter it and live there. You would think the butterfly were a bit off.

That’s exactly what we do, though, in our Christian walk. We receive this new life in Christ only to try and live it out in the empty shell.

The other thing we do is to try and “earn” being a butterfly. It would be like this same butterfly going to sleep in the cocoon every night praying that he would become a butterfly the next day.

Of course, that illustration is ridiculous. If we could see that butterfly and talk to that butterfly (and they could understand us of course), we would tell that butterfly, “But you are a butterfly. You can’t change what you already are! There’s nothing you could do to make you any less of a butterfly or any more of a butterfly. Why are you praying to be a butterfly? You are a butterfly! Now get out of that cocoon and be a butterfly!”

Believer, are you beginning to see?

You are the new creation. You have been transformed. Morphed into a new creature.

So, start living as a butterfly. Believe that’s how God sees you because that is who you are.

Nothing you can do will make you more of a new creation, and nothing that you can do will make you less of a new creation.

Stop trying to live out of the cocoon.

Stop seeing yourself as the empty shell (that old self is dead and buried).

Stop praying to be a butterfly.

You are a butterfly.

You are not worthless and lifeless.

You have Life living inside of you.

Believe.

Have faith.

Be the butterfly.

Is God Really In Charge?

Is God Really In Charge?

I hear this saying quite often. In fact, I just saw a comment on a friend’s Facebook post where someone commented:

I know God is in charge. Some days I get human and get impatient.

Understandable, isn’t it? To know God is in charge but also to become impatient wondering what He is up to.

That statement got me to thinking. What does it mean for God to be “in charge” and what is my view of God in that regard?

When I think of the phrase, God is in charge, a picture not unlike a boss comes to mind. If you’re like me, you’ve had good bosses (that you would work for again in a heartbeat), and horrible bosses (who you couldn’t get away from fast enough.)

It conjures images of a task-oriented, directive, Type-A personality who sits aloof from his workers, barking out orders and people scrambling to do his bidding from his corner office, away from the cube-farm subordinates. [Now you also might have a better image of what I think of human authority and my rebellious nature. :)]

God is not aloof and distant.

The true character of God’s in-charge-ness is the epitome of a shepherd who goes after the one lost sheep. leaving the ninety-nine.  (Luke 15:1-7)

It is the story of the Creator of the Universe leaving his throne, descending into a world ravaged by sin and darkness, and ultimately showing us what it means to be human.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2: 5-11, ESV)

It’s the narrative of a Father who loved His children so desperately that He ultimately gave them the greatest gift of all.  Restored life with Him.

And, it’s the account of a God who not only worked to set the universe and His redemptive plan in motion but continues to work in and through and with His people to this day.

Our God is not just “in charge” but He is in-volved in every single aspect of your life, of my life, and in the lives of those around us.  Even when we can’t see it or know what He’s up to.  He is working.

He gives us life through His son and lives that life through us by His Spirit who indwells us. (see Romans 8:11; Ephesians 3:16

For God, this is what it means to be in charge.  Not far away on His throne on high, sending others to do his bidding, but actively working by His Spirit to move in your life, to grow you and shape you and mold you to His likeness, and to use you to bring others into the same kind of relationship with Him, all for His glory and His eternal purpose.

He is a God worth following to the ends of the earth.

When you hear the phrase, God is in charge (or say it), what does it mean to you?  What image comes to mind?  Share in the comments below!

My Accidental Writing Sabbatical

My Accidental Writing Sabbatical

I know that there have been some who have followed my blog posts for a while. As of November 2013, I took a break from blogging on this site.

It wasn’t really a planned thing. It just kind of happened. And, to be honest, it has been hard to get back into the swing of it.

I’ve written a number of posts and tried to return, but none of them seemed to be worthy. Worthy of my audience. Worthy of God. Worthy of what I felt needed to be said. So I decided to stop and not start again until I knew it was time to return.

Another reason is that I went through a season of depression and doubt. For those of you who struggle with depression, you can probably understand. If you don’t deal with it, you probably know someone who does. And, hopefully, you too will understand.

Depression runs in my family, so I know those seasons will come. This season hit me harder than some, but not as hard as others that I’ve dealt with in the past. Again, if you’ve dealt with this kind of issue, you’ll know what I mean.

However, the most defining and important reason that I stopped blogging was that I have been through a season of pruning. And it’s been quite difficult to write during this time.

It’s been a very difficult process of Jesus stripping away everything that wasn’t of Him. When I say everything, I mean everything – even good things – things that could be labelled and considered ministry. Things that I didn’t want to give up – things that I both enjoyed and felt were “good” things.

For some things, I lost the desire (like blogging). For others, I heard the Lord say, “No.” Still others seemed to be more a matter of a slow pulling away.

During the last few months, I’ve been reading a lot. During the first part of this season, I even lost the desire to read. For those of you who know me well, you will know how unusual this is! 🙂 Typically, I will read several books at a time. For several months, I couldn’t bring myself to read much of anything.

I also wanted a new vision for the blog, a new focus. I felt like I needed a new direction and a new purpose. Since I’ve been in this season, I now feel like I’ve found and can commit to for the long haul. I’m sure there will be “tough” days of writing and moments of writer’s block, but with this new purpose, I pray that those times will be less and my commitment to both my readers and to this new vision will be greater.

That purpose (much like my life’s purpose) is to glorify Jesus Christ. And, so I want to begin writing about that journey. What I’ve learned and am learning. I want to bring you into the wonderful things that God has been showing me. i also want to share what I’m reading and have you comment and be part of the discussion.

I want to share insights and revelations with you about the things that Jesus is teaching and what he means, not only to me, but to all of us.

His life. His purpose.

His work on the cross. The blood he shed. His connection with the Father. The life we have (and can have) in Him. And, as Jesus is endless, so will be the topics for discussion.

The site name will change slightly – it will be Faith Brewing – I didn’t necessarily want the “s” at the end originally, but sometimes you take what you can get with domain names. Several months ago, the domain www.faithbrewing.com became available and I bought it.

Lastly, I want to begin a new phase of ministry. This is one big aspect of that. I feel that the Lord has gifted me with writing (more on that later – it’s something I never thought I would say), and also has gifted me with a ministry of teaching. And, I feel like this is to be my new format.

My desire is to create online courses and studies for my readers – in addition to providing resources and free material – things that you want to study more or know more. All of these will be centered on things that I have studied and learned over the years, as well as things that I am currently learning.

I pray that these things may bless you, but most of all lead you into an ever-deepening relationship and revelation of who Christ is. May your faith be strengthened and encouraged.

What’s next? Well, I’d like to hear from you. What do you want to study? What do you want to know of Jesus’ life, ministry, and purpose? What issues do you want me to address that you are struggling with spiritually?

Also, I have created a community on Facebook. If you would like to be a part of that community, click here and “like” the page. You will be notified of posts on your feed (hopefully – Facebook has been changing a lot.)

Lastly, if you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, click here. You will be notified of new posts, and also be notified when new studies or courses are available.

Thank you. And thank you for your patience. I pray that the Lord may bless you through this blog just as He has blessed me through the blogs and writings of others.

(If you’re interested in what I’ve been reading, check out the box on the sidebar, “What I’m Reading. I hope to do a post soon about the blogs and resources that have helped me in this season.)