The most natural tendency in us all is to just try harder to act in a way that smells sweet. To dress ourselves up. To act the right ways with each group of people we interact with.  The problem with behavior modification is it leads to hypocrisy.

Jesus lived among us, and He knows from first-hand experience that we as people are messed up! I am! Do you realize that you need help, too?

A number of years ago, I rushed into the house hoping to find things in order for dinner guests, but instead our 2-year-old was “being two,” and dinner wasn’t ready. I didn’t respond very well and was impatient with my embattled spouse.  Afterward, I looked in the mirror and asked, “Lord, does this Christianity really work? Am I really changing?”

Jesus’ calling applies to and empowers every believer. It’s not just pastors, cross-cultural missionaries and “super-Christians” who can really know Him and make a difference in the world. It’s you and me! God sent us as “missionaries” right where we live, work, and play.

When I was a first-semester freshman in college, some guys showed up to my dorm room and asked me if I was going to go through fraternity rush. I had no idea what they were talking about! I soon found out that it involved parties, girls, and large amounts of alcohol. 

One strong motivation to be people impacted by the Word of God is this: God’s Word is one of His most powerful means for changing our lives!

In our early-married years, Pam and I received old furniture from family or bought some at garage sales. One piece in particular was a little table that was completely worn out! It had many layers of paint and stain, one on top of the other. The brass handles of this little table were tarnished beyond recognition. We bought it because it was cheap, but later decided to take it on as a refinishing project!

In my last post, I talked about trusting and resting in the God who hears and acts on our behalf. One of the ways He does this is by transforming the ruins of our lives into something beautiful.

This life, even for those who stay close to Jesus, is punctuated with painful events. Ever wonder why God must use difficulties – the ash experiences in our lives – to create beauty in and through us? I have on numerous occasions. And while Pam and I have experienced our share of ashes, we have friends who have had more painful experiences: physical illness, spousal unfaithfulness, prolonged unemployment, wounding from past trauma and illness or death of children.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past couple months of home building, it’s that it takes a team to build a house! This experience has given us a great opportunity to connect with new people. We’ve met with designers, builders, and craftsmen who have helped us make all kinds of decisions, ranging from the layout of the rooms to the kinds of wood to use in the flooring. One cold morning, we brought donuts to the crew, and were awestruck at the manpower that went into the framing process. As we watched, it became clear that in every way, this has been a collaborative effort.  God works collaboratively, too.

The builder of our post-fire new home is SaddleTree homes, whose President, Lee, is a wonderful businessman who finds great hope in Jesus. One day he told me the story behind the name of his company.