Demolition is the best part!

My wife and I love home remodel shows. Good thing, too, because our new house was a renovation zone for about two weeks before we moved in!

In all home remodel shows, there is the “concept stage” where the designers set out to show the homeowner what their space could look like, and there is the working stage, but nestled right in between is the part everyone loves — the demolition stage!

There is very little more rewarding than finally getting the keys to your new place (at least if you bought a place that needed a little work) and starting to tear things up. It marks progress. It marks what could be. It is the start of a finished product that you are really going to love!

Here’s the problem:

Demo is only fun for about 5 minutes. As long as you are tearing up BIG strips of carpet and pad, prying up nasty floors, knocking down walls or tearing out cabinets, demolition is a smash (yep, it fits. Pun intended). But tons of tedious work follows. Pulling up staples from carpet pad and tack strips. Sanding, patching and prepping walls before you can paint them. Every little problem you run into adds time, a run out to the hardware store, and possibly frustration.

However frustrating these hold-ups might be, they are critical to the success of the final product. It is the difference of doing it right and doing it fast. For us, the big project was laying new floors, so these steps were the difference between a quiet floor and a squeaky one. A tack nail or staple missed in the prep stages could mean a floor that won’t sit flush, or could mean buckling floor boards later on.

Tedious as the work is, it is critical to get rid of all the old issues before installing the new.

What happens when you don’t

Before my wife and I got married, her family flipped a house and I got to be a part of the process. In one of the rooms, there were probably 4-5 layers of flooring — laid one over the other — to cover up the rot and mess caused by the previous tenets’ pets.

As we pulled up layer after layer we wondered, “why, why, why would anyone do it this way?” This covering definitely didn’t eradicate the smell from the house, and it didn’t remove any of the rot and decay caused by <snarling at the thought> cats.

By laying new floor on top of the old, it didn’t remove any of the problems, it was just a new façade to cover up what was really underneath.

New building cannot happen without removing the old

My fear is that too often, people become Christians and expect a new, shiny veneer over a life that has years of hurt, bad habits, scars and baggage at its core. Those that have been Christians for a while are guilty, too. We cling to the parts of the Bible that make us feel better about who we already are, and explain away or — worse — completely ignore the parts that cause us any discomfort.

Paul says in Ephesians that we are God’s “workmanship” (Eph 2:10), 2 Corinthians 4 portrays us as vessels crafted by God. He is shaping us and molding us.

Unfortunately, many of us come to him after years of not following him, and we have some old, nasty, cat-pee carpet hidden in our hearts. To expect him to just put a new layer on top is completely inconsistent with the very perfect and thorough builder that he is.

God wants to GUT our hearts when we come to him. He wants to start FRESH with a CLEAN slate. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW creation. The old is GONE, and THE NEW HAS COME.”

But he cannot do that without our consent. He cannot strip us of the old if we will not let him.

And that is our call. To allow him in and take out even the parts that we might be fond of. For a while it might seem tedious, painful and repetitive. Things might look a whole lot worse before they look any better.

But our job is to trust that his vision for what we could be will be an infinitely greater version of us that we brought to his feet.

Trust the process.

Allow the tedious demolition work.

Allow God to build something new and do it the right way.

Killing My Praise

Has something that you see all the time ever caught your attention in a new way? The beauty of your wife’s face? The message hidden below the surface of your favorite movie? That stop sign at the end of your street that you always roll through until the morning when a police car is sitting on the cross street?

Me too. It happened to me today.

Throughout the Bible there is a phrase repeated over and over (or something like it):

Sacrifice of Praise.

Sometimes it’s called a “thanks offering,” or it may be put in other words. Because I’ve spent so much time in church, it is natural to breeze by these lines and think of Sunday gatherings. But today the question hit me:

When was the last time I sacrificed my own praise?

At this moment, I’m not talking about being the giver of praise to God, so much as being the sacrificing of people’s praises that are directed to me. Take a look at the verse that got my wheels turnin’ for more context:

Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of Praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.

When we confess Jesus as our savior, part of that is sacrificing our praise. It is so easy to come across as boastful, prideful, arrogant. While Paul does talk about boasting in Christ, I fear that too often we (or maybe I am the only one) boast in ourselves and try to cloak it in spirituality.

When someone praises you, do you sacrifice that praise and turn the focus on God?

Are we people who actually believe he is responsible for “every good thing?”

I mean really?

You will probably be praised for something today.

Let’s sacrifice that praise to the sustainer of life.

The Gospel Lived Out [Video]

As I write this, I am speechless. I have spent the last half hour crying my eyes out and this video was the last pebble holding up the dam. Check it out:

New Film Premiere – I Like Adoption. from ILikeGiving.com on Vimeo.

The video is from a new campaign called I Like Giving. The mission of the site is not to get more of your money, but to get more people thinking — and acting — generously.

This site is one of the purest and most beautiful applications of the gospel message I have seen in a long time.

So click here to learn more, or sign up to give the idea a 3-day trial run! As for me and my family, we are going to write our own “I Like _______.” story (watch the promo video or the “I like bike” video to learn where the name came from. I can’t wait to hear yours.

Do you already have an “I Like ________.” Story? Share it below!

God’s Will For You Today!

“Be Joyful Always; Pray Continually; Give thanks in all circumstances. This is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” -1 Thessalonians 5:17

I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s will lately. Everyone wants to know God’s will, and wants to wait for him to show it to them. There is a crucial lesson for Christians to learn. Jesus taught it, Paul reiterated it. I’ve condensed it here. It comes from Luke 19:11-26. It’s the Parable of the Ten Minas. Click the link and read the parable before you go on.

I’ve been thinking about how practical God is in the way that he guides us. The principle in this parable is that those who can be entrusted with a little will also be trusted with a lot. How sensible! This should ring true with any parent, project leader, administrator, business owner, or anyone else who is in a position of authority over others. When you have a task that needs to get done but the person to whom it is assigned falls through, you would never turn around and give them a BIGGER task! At the very least you would give them another task of similar size and start training them up in responsibility, follow through, diligence, etc. Someone that cannot fulfill the most menial task would be destined to fail if they were assigned something much bigger.

God works the same way. Sometimes it’s financially, as on the surface of this parable. As you are a faithful steward of your resources, you will find your money going farther and, in some cases, strange blessings will come your way because you are wise, disciplined and faithful. God says that if you are wise with a little, the same principles will lead you to wise choices when you have a lot. If you are foolish with a little, you would likely be foolish if you suddenly had plenty.

This parable goes deeper, though, and God treats our spirit the same way. We often want to know God’s specific plan, or his will in the particulars of life. We want to know what he has in store for us — where to go next, what to do next, etc. Maybe you are not in a time of spiritual plenty. Maybe you want more from God. You want him to reveal himself, or for a spiritual relationship with him to just “happen.” This parable teaches us that you have to be faithful with what you’ve got. Are you busy? You will always be. Make time for God now. Make him a priority now. Are you financially strapped? That will likely not change too much unless you start changing your money principles now. Do you not feel like God is close? Do things to close the gap and build that relationship now. Don’t wait for him to talk to you out of the clouds. Be a faithful steward of the position you are in today.

1 Thessalonians tells us, plain as day, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will in Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). God may have remarkably specific plans for you, but his will for all of us is that we find contentment and trust in him. Be joyful. Pray continually. Be thankful for your present circumstance. When you prove that you can be trusted with a little, God will often begin to entrust much more to you.

What is it about this simple teaching that seems so difficult?