New ‘Creation’ [v171]

MAY 2013

New ‘Creation’

Here in Michigan, the past month’s temperatures have resembled a yo-yo—with a seven-time “world champion” at the end of the string—from the low 40’s to the low 80’s (Fahrenheit that is). Combine that with winds that ‘rattle’ the glass in your window frames so much that you dare not sit by them, we can tell that spring is just ‘around the corner’—and everything will be coming out of their hibernation and changing into a ‘new creation’.

Changing into something new can sometimes be traumatic.

As I mentioned last month, my business completely ‘changed’ our web site to something totally new—it went through a “metamorphosis”—kind of like what the caterpillars are ‘preparing’ to do right now. A short story, I used to read my kids, when they were small, might help me illustrate my point:

“Two caterpillars were crawling across the grass when a butterfly flew over them. They looked up, and one nudged the other and said, ‘You couldn’t get me up in one of those things for a million dollars!’” Well, you and I know that those two caterpillars have a butterfly ‘inside’ them, just waiting to get out—as do we, in a manner of speaking. [From “Hope for the Flowers,” by Trina Paulus. A really good “children’s” book!].

Another story about caterpillars comes to mind that will help refine my point. “A man finds a cocoon of a butterfly, and after watching it struggle for a few hours to force its body through a little hole, the man decides to ‘help’ and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily, but, it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. What the man didn’t understand was that the restricted cocoon and the struggle to get through the tiny hole is God’s way of forcing fluid from the body to its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.”

Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life to make us strong enough to free ourselves from out of our ‘cocoon’—and to start anew. This concept is wonderfully presented by Merrill C. Tenney, using the springtime necessity of pruning.

“In pruning a vine, two principles are generally observed: first, all dead wood must be ruthlessly removed; and second, the live wood must be cut back drastically. Dead wood harbors insects and disease and may cause the vine to rot, to say nothing of being unproductive and unsightly. Live wood must be trimmed back in order to prevent such heavy growth that the life of the vine goes into the wood rather than into fruit. The vineyards in the early spring look like a collection of barren, bleeding stumps; but in the fall they are filled with luxuriant purple grapes.”


Just as the farmer wields the pruning knife on his vines, the Bible tells us that God also cuts out the ‘dead wood’ from among His ‘people’, and sometimes cuts back the ‘living wood’ so far that His method seems cruel. However, many examples are shown that, from those who have suffered the most, there often comes the greatest ‘fruitfulness’ (i.e. Job, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samson, David, Peter, and Paul).

Jesus also used this metaphor when He was trying to explain who He was. He said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” [John 15:1-8].

Jesus also said to His disciples that those who were ‘connected’ to Him would grow and flourish in life—and that those who followed Him, would be “grafted in”—added to the ‘vine’—and be allowed to experience all of God’s blessings.


When Jesus said that He was the ‘vine’, it was more than just referring to an Old Testament time agricultural analogy. He was ‘redefining’ what they (and we) really need—HIM! Jesus calls us to ‘connect’ to the vine (Him), for in the vine, we find the way we are to go, we find the truth we need to believe, and we find the life we were created to live. Getting becomes giving. Having becomes helping. Rejecting gives way to redeeming.

The Bible tells us that Saul—before his ‘change’ to the Apostle Paul—was one of the worst persecutors of the people who were followers of Jesus. To the best of his ability, which was great, he would arrest, throw in prison, and execute anyone that was a believer in Jesus. But, by his own account, he was totally changed by an “encounter with the living Christ.”

Years later—now as a missionary talking to fellow believers in Corinth—he explained the ‘change’ one receives like this: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” [2 Corinthians 5:17].

In doing so, God will send the Holy Spirit to ‘reside’ in you, and to be your “counselor”: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” [Ezekiel 36:26].


In my backyard, I have a number of trees. During the autumn, the kids and I used to enjoy watching the leaves fall (and jumping in the piles), but there are certain trees that held their leaves until spring. Their leaves withered and turned brown, but they didn’t drop—not until spring did these trees lose their leaves when the new leaves ‘pushed out’ the old leaves. That’s exactly what happens to our old habits and to our old lives when we become “Christians”—the new life pushes that old life ‘out of the way’.

It is not a matter of plucking off this bad habit or knocking off that bad thought. The Christian life is not forged in that manner. Your new life replaces your old life when you become “born again,” and the Holy Spirit comes into ‘reside’ in you—to be your personal guide, mentor, and advocate,


The good news is that God promises that He will help us through any ‘change’ (even if that change is ‘turning away’ from our old way of life to a new one focused on Him). He also promises that He will never leave us alone—that He ‘sees’ far beyond the pain we might be experiencing during our changes, and will make our new beginning BENEFICIAL to us (and to those around us, too!), if we’ll just let Him. In Christ, God gives you the grace you will need to ‘struggle’ through the circumstances to be able to become a NEW ‘CREATION’.

That’s what the “Good News” of the Gospel is all about—God’s intervention into our lives by offering His Son as our ‘payment’ for all the wrongdoing we have committed in our lives, and the promise of a never-ending life with Him in Heaven!

Each new day we can be filled afresh with the power of the Holy Spirit—Who will help you in becoming a new ‘creation’!


All this to say that, if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you become a NEW CREATION and ‘change’ your eternal destiny—by overcoming the ‘estrangement’ from God by accepting His reconciliation through His Son, Jesus.


[Excerpts from: Carol Van Atta; Mary DuParri; D. James Kennedy; Ken Hagler; R.J. Fetsch; S. Quick; M. Rupured]


[P.S.: If you would like to investigate further how you can grow closer to God in the here and now, visit the following link:
http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q12_d1_1of10.html ].


LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v171) for MAY 2013
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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EXTREME SPIRITUAL MAKEOVER
Of all the reality shows on TV today, my favorite is “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” In this show a family is whisked away from their home for a week while a crew of designers and carpenters remodel their once ordinary home into a state of the art showplace. The family chosen is generally has a special need. One episode featured a family of nine children who lost both their parents in the span of two weeks. Another episode featured a family of four expecting triplets. Generally by the end of the show, the family has a wonderful new home and I’ve gone through at least a box of Kleenex.

As Christians, we too are special-need recipients of a wonderful makeover. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We’re not the same as we used to be. We’ve been born again. Just as the design team on the show tears down walls and builds them back up in a new way, so God tears down the walls we’ve built in our lives and remakes us in his image. While the house is gutted to its bare minimum, the carpenters work with the existing structure of the house instead of razing it to its foundation. God also doesn’t scrap us and start over. In Revelation 21:5, the risen Christ proclaims, “I am making everything new!” Notice he says he makes everything new, not new everything. God could easily and justifiably toss us aside and just start over again fresh, but Christ’s main business is redemption, redeeming us for something greater in him than we ever could have imagined before.

In Jeremiah 18, God directs Jeremiah to go to a potter’s house. Jeremiah watches as the potter works at his wheel and becomes displeased with the vessel he’s working on. So being the creator, he smashes the clay back into a lump and starts over. Did you notice that he doesn’t get new clay? He takes the clay he has and makes something better. When we trust our clay into God’s hands, we too are formed into something much better than we are.

The family on the show could easily turn down the makeover. They could decide that they just don’t trust this team of strangers to completely wreck their house and start over. How do they know how it will turn out? What shape will their house be in when they get home? Shouldn’t we just leave well enough alone? Who are these people and why are they waking me up at 6:00 a.m. with a bullhorn?

Too often we turn down our makeovers from God. We’re not too sure about this new stuff. What I’ve got now may not be great, but at least it’s familiar. Sometimes, we let God make some changes, but not all of them. We don’t want to go too far with this whole change thing. Change is scary. The trick is trust.

So much of our Christian life is about trust. Do we trust God to save us? Do we trust God to direct our lives? Do we trust God to remake us into something different and wonderful? Are you ready for your Extreme Spiritual Makeover?
[Sandra Perry]

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ARE YOU THE 2% OR THE 98% OF THE POPULATION?

This is weird. Follow the instructions! NO PEEKING AHEAD!

Free will or synaptic wiring? You be the judge.

Do the following exercise, guaranteed to raise an eyebrow. There’s no trick or surprise. Just follow these instructions, and answer the questions one at a time and as QUICKLY as you can!

Again, as quickly as you can, but don’t advance until you’ve done each of them… really.
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Now, arrow down (but not too fast, you might miss something).
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Think of a number from 1 to 10
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Multiply that number by 9
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If the number is a 2-digit number, add the digits together.
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Now subtract 5
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Determine which letter in the alphabet corresponds to the number you ended up with (example: 1=a, 2=b, 3=c, etc.)
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Think of a country that starts with that letter
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Remember the last letter of the name of that country
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Think of the name of an animal that starts with that letter
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Remember the last letter in the name of that animal
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Think of the name of a fruit that starts with that letter
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Are you thinking of Denmark, a Kangaroo, and an Orange? [ I told you this was FREAKY! ].

If you didn’t think of those, you’re among the 2% of the population that thought of one of the other three countries that starts with “D” (Dominican Republic, Dominica, and Djibouti).

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DEEP THOUGHT:
“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.”
[Bern Williams]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 
[2 Corinthians 5:17]

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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