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“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Extreme Makeover--HEART Edition

I love the show Extreme Makeover--Home Edition. The Makeover team arrives at someone's house and calls them outside and tells them the good news: they're going to get a beautiful, brand new home, and while it's being built the family goes on vacation. Many of the stories submitted by the families are heart wrenching to say the least.

After the family leaves, the demolition begins. The family watches via video camera, as their old house is torn down in a matter a few minutes. Sometimes the expressions on their faces range from joy and excitement to pain or sorrow or even regret depending on the memories the old house holds. But the tearing down must take place before the building up of the new house can happen.

When God views our old heart, I wonder what He sees. Decay and crumbling structure due to sin? Weak, vulnerable places due to neglect? Broken places due to sorrow and heartache? He sees all that and more. He also sees a heart with possibilities. He looks beyond the present and conceives a dynamic heart filled with joy and praise, a heart of worship linked to a life lived for Him. He sees past the ruin and waste, past the tears and brokenness to a heart that can be renovated, rebuilt and restored. But the tearing down of the old must take place first before God can renew the heart.

God's Makeover Team consists of Himself, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. Together they do what no man can do. God can intervene in a life regardless of the condition of the heart, and create a beautiful new heart--one that beats in synchronization with His. Sometimes the demolition process is painful. Bitter memories are cut away. Regrets are torn down. Anguish and disappointment are raked away. Grief and mourning are burned off. Then, in the midst of the ashes and debris, there emerges the new. A new-found joy, a new song, new praise, and new mercy. New glory rains down, new strength rises up, and new comfort sustains.

For the TV show, each family must make a video and send it in along with hundreds of recommendation letters written by other people declaring support for the family. To receive God's makeover, all one must do is ask, believing He will keep His promises. There are no screaming team members or huge crowds. But I'd be willing to bet the angels in heaven are doing some serious rejoicing. When God takes an old heart and makes it new again, that's what I call an Extreme Makeover--Heart Edition.

Thanks for letting me share my (madeover) heart.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Homecoming Day

I was going through a box of photographs yesterday and found a picture of my son, Jonathan, and his date, all dressed up for homecoming. The photo was taken in 1995. Handsome rascal that he was, his heart-melting grin warmed me as I gazed at the picture. Back then, homecoming meant pep rallies and week-long festivities, football games, topped off by the homecoming celebration held in the school gymnasium with the kids dressed to the nines.

Homecoming means something else entirely now. January 10, 2006 was Homecoming Day for Jonathan. God reached down and cradled my son in His arms and took him Home. Jonathan left behind the pain and brutality of cancer and took up residence in heaven. He's home, he's safe, he's whole, he's cancer-free.

While he lingered on this earth, his days centered around medications, treatments, doctors and hospitals, side effects, and pain. Now his days are filled with singing and praising the One who died so he could have life. The place we call heaven, my son calls home.

When I am out and about, people sometimes comment about the Marine Corps shirts I often wear. They ask if I have a son in the Corps, and I tell them yes. Then the next question is always, "Where is he?" When I tell them he is in heaven, they always say how sorry they are. I tell them, "Don't be sorry. I know where he is, and I know I will see him again some day. 2nd Samuel 12:23 says that my son cannot come to where I am, but I will go to where he is."

We try to imagine what heaven will be like through scripture. We talk about streets of gold and gates of pearl, a land where there is no night because Jesus is the Light that illumines heaven. We try to picture heaven in our mind, but I don't think we can truly know until we get there ourselves.

I'm anxious to go. God has blessed me beyond measure on this earth, but I can't wait to go Home. I want to see Jonathan again. I want to be where he is. I want to laugh with him again. But most of all, I want to be where Jesus is. I want to fall down and worship Him. I want to sing His praise and kiss the nailprints in His feet. Who can imagine the glory of Homecoming Day?

My son is living it.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My God Is An Awsome God

Recently on Fox News, the hosts of the morning show Fox & Friends read a list of words or phrases certain intellectuals have requested no longer be used by talk show hosts. While I agreed with a few, some bordered on the ridiculous. However, it reminded me about the words and phrases I hear on a regular basis, that I wish I didn't.

For example, how many times do we hear the word LIKE in casual conversation? "That outfit is like, so like, 20th century. Like, I mean, like where does she shop? Like, at a thrift store?"

Okay, like that might be a like poor example, but like you get my drift. Doesn't it just make you want to grab the person by the shoulders and shake them till their teeth rattle. Or better yet, doesn't it make you want to run out and buy them a thesaurus?

Another phrase I hear regularly that I wish I didn't is the use of God's name as an exclamation. If someone desires to cry out to God in a time of crisis, then using "Oh! My God!" might be appropriate. Is it a heartfelt plea for God's help and presence in a time of danger or dispair? Is God's name used in an attitude of reverence and awe? If not, then perhaps this person too, is in need of a thesaurus.

One of the most over-used and mis-used words today is AWESOME. There is little on this earth that I see as truly awe-inspiring. Our English language is loaded with superlatives that are much better choices when discribing a performance, something we have read or heard, a song, a friend, or any material item. A car is not awesome. A house is not awesome. They might be amazing, grand, unsurpassed, beautifully designed, or breathtaking. A song or a performance might be entertaining, energizing, soothing, stirring, or majestic. A book might be inspiring, well-written, hilarious, or bold. A friend can be described as treasured, esteemed, or a soul-mate. But awesome? Do we truly understand the concept of awe?

When I come before God in all my human frailty and attempt to wrap my mind around the wonder of His greatness, then I can truthfully say I am in awe. I stand in awe of a God whose power, knowledge, wisdom, and presence is beyond my comprehension. I stand in awe of a God who holds me in the palm of His hand. I stand in awe of a God who loves me despite all my shortcomings.

Let the words of my heart be filled with praise for the Holy God who knows the beginning from the end, who created the world and all that is in it with a spoken word, and yet still pours out caring and comfort to my wounded soul. There is only One who fills my heart with awe. We truly serve an AWESOME God.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.