a new creation

Last Thursday I shared about how dandelions remind me that it is not only okay to be different than the world, but that we are supposed to be different.  (You can read it here)  Today I want to talk about another lesson I got from this common little weed.

My 5 year old and I have been studying this little plant this month as part of our nature/science portion of school.  We have discovered that a dandelion blooms it's bright yellow flower for only a day or two, and then it closes its petals and begins a transformation.....

We start out being a good creation of God, loved and beautiful in His eyes.  But we are also like a weed.  No matter how much God loves us or how beautiful we are to Him, we just don't belong in the garden.  But God can transform us into something new, something totally different.

What a wonderful word, transformation.  Merriam Webster's dictionary defines transformation as a "complete and major change in someone or something".  We see transformations all around us, especially at this time of year.  The trees transform from leafless, seemingly lifeless entities to plants that are vibrantly green.  Animals transform from a cold state of hibernation to an energetic state of motion.  Flowers transform from bulbs underground to stately, colorful displays of beauty.  God promises to transform us too when we decide to allow Him.

We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that when we choose Jesus, we are made new, sounds like a transformation to me.  And Romans 12:2 reminds us that we are not only supposed to be different than the world, but that this difference comes from a transformation of our mind, something internal and not really seen by the world.  Sounds like a dandelion to me.

A dandelion closes its flower head and the transformation begins.  How long it takes varies depending upon outside stimulus.  How much sunshine and rain there is greatly affects the transformation.  You know, the things a plant needs to survive.  Our transformation is similar.

When we give our life to Jesus the process begins, but how long it takes is dependant upon our exposure to the Son and how we weather the the rainstorms.  Transformation requires energy, and it requires being feed.  Unlike the dandelion we aren't rooted in place unable to seek out what we need to complete the transformation.  God has given us His Spirit which is life (John 6:63).  We can choose to feed our transformation by soaking ourselves in His Word, by listening to His Spirit, by choosing His ways.  Or we can choose to make the transformation more difficult by not "feeding" ourselves on Him.

In my daughter's study we chose two dandelion plants.  One is mostly in a shaded area that doesn't get much water due to it being under the eaves our house.  The other is in a sunny location that receives plenty of water.  Bet you can figure out which one transformed first.....

In but not of...

John 17:16

Spring has finally arrived here.  The leaves on the trees are budding, my crocuses and daffodils have made an appearance, and I have even heard the sounds of lawn mowers in the neighborhood.  I have also noticed the bright yellow heads of dandelions amongst the emerald green grass as well.

For many, the dandelion is a weed, a nuisance plant that is out of place in a well-manicured lawn.  As a child, I loved them.  They were a flower I was allowed, even encouraged, to pick.  I can remember creating bouquets of them with some Queen Anne's Lace and proudly presenting them to my mother, who dutifully sniffed them and proclaimed it to be beautiful without even wrinkling her nose. (A true effort of will if you have ever smelled Queen Anne's Lace!)  As we grow older, though, that bright yellow flower loses its allure and becomes an undesirable.

I don't know about you, but I have felt like that at times.  I poke my head up, a little different than the things around me, and let my colors shine...only to be left feeling undesirable or out of place by those around me.  I felt that way when I returned to college, the old-timer in my 30's amongst a crowd of teens.  I felt that way when I went against the norm and decided not only to homeschool my youngest child, but to keep my middle school child home as well.  And I have felt out of place in certain crowds simply because of my faith in Jesus.   I'm sure you have too.  Do you know what though?  That's okay.

You see, we, as followers of Jesus, are called to be out of place.  Don't believe me?  Read Romans 12:2 and John 15:19.  (Hover over the verses and the Scripture will pop up for you.)  We aren't supposed to be like everyone else.  We are supposed to be transformed-different than the world around us.  We aren't supposed to be loved by everyone living in the world, if we are then we would belong to the world and not Jesus.  We are supposed to be like the dandelions in a field of green grass, letting our bright color stand apart and show God's beauty and love.  It's not an easy road.  Jesus knew this, and He even prayed to His father about it:
I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.  They do not belong to this world any more than I do.  Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.  Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. ~John 17:14-18 NLT
He knew that we were going to feel out of place once we decided to follow Him, but He also knows that is necessary in order to bring God's truth to the world.  If we looked and acted like everyone else, how could we point the way to Jesus?  So the next time you see a dandelion, remember that God calls you to be in the world, a part of that field, but not really of the field.  Rather you have been sent to the field.  You have a mission to stand out and be different, it's a good thing.  Take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus has already prayed for your protection on this mission to stand apart.

Next Tuesday I'll share another little lesson I picked up from that little yellow weed.

A New Beginning

 A New Beginning:

Lamentations 3:23-24
The beauty of spring is showing itself everywhere you look. Plants are budding, trees are blossoming, and flowers are blooming. It’s my favorite time of year; the mixture of the warm air and cool breeze, cleaning the dead leaves and weeds out of the flower beds that the winter left behind; planting seeds for the new growth to take root…I love seeing new life forming. (Isaiah 35: 1-2) (Song of Solomon 2:11-13)
I enjoy sitting on my porch in the mornings I don’t work, sipping my coffee and listening to Him speak; through the birds chirping, the animals scurrying through the woods and the wind awakening the dormant leaves. (Joel 2:22) I feel Him with me as I take in the beginning of a new day. (Lamentations 3:23-24)

And that’s what accepting Christ is: a New Beginning. (John 11:25-26) You allow the dead in you to be cleaned and cleared out- for new seeds to be planted and take root. Soon you start to bud and blossom from the blessings, blooming exuberantly for all to see. You become the gentle breeze in someone’s life, rustling and awakening them- spreading His Truth: Jesus died for our sins, and arose on the third day, conquering sin and death. (1 Corinthians 15:4)
It’s no coincidence that Easter is in the springtime. Spring brings forth new life; Easter is the celebration of Jesus New Life. His Kingdom reigns in Heaven and in our hearts. He is alive and real; look at His beauty and Power all around you.

Just as seeds survive the elements of the seasons to a new spring, so can we survive the elements of this world to a New Life. No matter what the ‘winter’ brings, through His Resurrection we have Hope. Our hope is in Him. If Christ died for our sins and conquered death, surely our hope should be that we can conquer this world. (John 16:33)


Psalm 143:8

Did you ever feel like no matter how hard you try, you just never seem to measure up to being the 'Good Christian'; or even just a good person some days?

Ginny and I have acknowledged for a long time now that the only chance we have of being a decent people is by starting our day with 2CC's: Coffee and Christ. And then there are days that in order to unwind and let it all go, we have to end our day the same way we started it, with Jesus and a cup of Joe.

Our addiction to coffee is powerful; but the addiction to Christ is more prevailing. We may count on that morning cup of coffee to wake us up and energize us, but truthfully, it's His Word that invigorates and strengthens each of us every morning. There are even days that the coffee has gotten cold while we've gotten lost in our studies.

While we may feel we need my coffee to be a good person, what we all truly need is Christ. To wake up and feel His Love; to know His Love; to live His Love. Psalm 143:8 is a great reminder for what we should be seeking and praying each morning. "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life."

Start your day in fellowship with God. Feel His Love for you; trust it. And ask Him what He should have you do each day to bring Him Glory.

So whether you're a cup of black coffee, cafe mocha, caramel frappacino, venti latte connoisseur; even if your preferred version is {gasp} decaf(!): grab a cup of Joe, open your Bible and enjoy your 2CC's.  

It is our sincere hope that by opening up our morning devotion times with you twice a week you too can be invigorated, strengthened, and prepared for the day.  Bring your own coffee.....