Redeeming the Generations

Chad, a dear friend and spiritual son, texted me some photos the other day. One prompted a mixed-emotion smile. When the second photo came through, I immediately began to cry.  The imagery too confronting, too powerful, and too tender.

He had been asked to make a cross for the Resurrection Sunday Celebration at New Wine Church. Chad explained how he had looked at his lumber options. He considered a beautiful piece of seasoned oak or a lovely piece of planed cedar. But the Lord directed him to a more humble offering. Here is the first photo:

This plank of wood is from my parent’s house and my childhood home. It was a shelf in my mother’s pantry that held all manner of kitchen goods. Mom was ever cooking wonderful meals for her family.  And, like every good Depression-surviving woman, she had to have ample supplies in her pantry.  “Just in case,” she would say.

Chad remarked about the shelf, “Under all the multiple layers of paint, dust, grease, and preservatives there was this beautiful slab of wood. It just took a little work to get there.” Selah.

This is sweet. Special, even. A symbol of my mother’s hard work and wisdom. However. Before it was a pantry, this small space was my bedroom. And before that, this small space housed both of my brothers in a narrow bunk.

In one moment, all kinds of memories blitzed my heart and head. Wonderful meals, cramped spaces, poverty as a child.

For reference, this is the room once the shelves were removed and the house was  “all dolled up” to put on the market.

My heart was in a blender already when Chad’s second photo came through.

I still can’t look at this picture without choking up. (Thanks, Chad.) The transformation is stunning. The metaphor is wrenching. It was the Cross that redeemed all that poverty, brokenness, and lack. God took my parent’s best efforts and worst frailties and shaped their offering into something beyond their wildest dreams.

It’s a prayer every parent can relate to. I can relate to.  Oh God, make us aware of our inheritance to our children, good or bad, and may the Cross transform it all.

God breaks very real generational curses, redeems relationships, and restores fortunes lost or squandered. But wait there is so very much more.

Look at where Chad placed the cross. All greater things are grown out of the cross.

Greater Things is literally grown out of God’s relentless love as well as the love of those who have raised us in the faith. It’s our joy and honor now to continue to multiply all that we have been given.

Don’t miss this.

All of us, and I mean ALL of us, are ALWAYS climbing on the root system of someone before us. Someone else sacrificed and persevered and believed to the point of tears.  Jesus himself believed to the point of blood.

The belief that God will bring beauty from our ashes, joy from our mourning, a double portion for our shame, and freedom from captivity is our unending anthem.  In a word, transformation.

One final kiss. On Resurrection Sunday, the families each brought a flower and adorned the cross. Not that we could ever add to God’s glory — but we celebrate the power and beauty of our Life-giving, Chain-breaking, Death-defying King Jesus.

Are you BAD or BIG?

Whoa.  This summer I am in my own personal crash course with the Holy Spirit. Several books have come my way which are blowing me up  in all the needed places, but put those books in the hands of the Living Spirit and  you have a cocktail called Rock My World, complete with a little umbrella. Wink. Seriously. It is in a word: Transformation.

One book is called Are My Kids On Track? by Goff, Thomas, and Trevathan. If your kids are little, get and activate it immediately. If you are thinking about kids, get it and work it in to your marriage right now. If you’re like me, and your kids are on their way out  door, go take a deep breath of Grace, and then immediately activate it anyway. It’s never too late to start doing something better.

These wise, insightful counselors and authors have so many tools for healthy emotional development and go so far as to identify, for each gender, stumbling blocks and and building blocks. I tell you, this book is a must read. You know why? Because if we don’t turn our stumbling blocks into building blocks then we remain stuck little kids inside grown up bodies. And we all know THAT person who “never grew up.”

One particular insight explained stumbling blocks for boys as B-A-D.  They said boys are most likely to go to Blame, Avoidance, and Denial. BAD. Believe it or not, there are building blocks to help them through this, as opposed to saying “boys will be boys” or boys are not emotional. Okay you got this concept? BAD, being aware  of when I am refusing to take ownership, when I refuse to engage in a solution, or even admit there is an issue.

Holy Spirit has  used this book to install a new alarm system. My heart starts pinging when I go to BAD.

The Holy Spirit took this pearl and added it to a beautiful concept from another book called Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown. As one of my Kate friends says: Love me some Brene’.  Brene’ asks some real world questions in the aftermath of when you fall flat on your face, when the worst thing does happen, when you fail in front of everyone. How do you get back up?  How do you rise again stronger and wiser and kinder to yourself and those around you?

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Connecting the Dots

God is about instructing us. “Instructing” comes from a Greek word, paideia — meaning faithful instruction of a believer for a whole person transformation.

I love that. No boxes to check. No stone unturned. Not selective grooming, but a total makeover inside and out.  God is after the transformation of the whole person.  Now look at this perhaps familiar scripture, and then let’s play “connect the dots.”

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  Philipians 4: 4-8 NKJV

What comes first?  Rejoicing or worship. Transformation is always preceded by worship because we have to get our hearts aligned with Who Truth really is. After worship follows gentleness. Worship has a way of softening hard hearts, watering hard soil. Once the ground has been softened and hearts become gentle, truth can enter in. Who is entering? The Lord is at hand.

He is here among us so that we don’t have to be anxious. This is confidence, that God is among us and for us.  So with confidence we can ask and believe. What comes next? His peace. A peace that acts as shield and covering for our hearts and minds, not our manufactured peace but the supernatural peace of Christ. And once the peace of God is in place, then comes focus. Focus of our thoughts, intentions and attitudes. God wants to instruct us to think about what we think about. Whatever is. . . true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue, praiseworthy, think on these things. This is God’s loving instruction to simply walk in truth, in God’s perspective on things.

Worship comes first, then gentleness, then confidence in Him, then peace, then focus. . . Meditate on these things.