God Loves a Fixer-Upper

(House graphic)

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the popularity of television shows that feature backyard makeovers or home fix-ups. The first part of Psalm 19 points out how God wants to renovate our hearts and souls. As humans we a drawn to the idea of renewal because it positions hope within reach. On television, it is all about the talented crew’s hard work. Spiritual transformation works from the inside out and can only be accomplished by God, but He desires our partnership.

Last week in the middle of Psalm 19, the need for daily watering in God’s word proved to be the only way to revive a parched soul. In the final section of Psalm 19, we will look at how the ultimate makeovers restore hope, reveal hidden problems, and support sustainable growth and change.

Next time you watch a show featuring home or garden renovation, look for this universal formula to play out.

  •           First, the family and the crew meet in the backyard or at the house and cast vision and get guidance for what they want, what they value, and how much it will cost.
  •           Second, just as the work is getting started, a hidden fault will be revealed. There is always something that no one saw at the beginning that threatens to hijack the entire project. The good news is that there will always be a creative work solution once the problem is discovered. 
  •          Third, the grand reveal introduced the family to transformed space. Everything has been made new, and it was done in such a way that will last and be sustainable.

God uses His word to begin a transformation in each of our hearts. First, He wants us to see how valuable transformation can be. Then, using vivid imagery, God reveals His word is a treasure.

Have you ever spent time asking the Lord for a vision for your life?

10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

(Psalm 19:10-11 ESV)

God’s word is beneficial in short-term ways. Money or gold can be spent on whatever is needed. Honey can be eaten or used medicinally immediately. By contrast, Verse 11 points to the long-term benefits of listening and obeying God’s word. Notice the promise tucked in here, “there is great reward.”

12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

(Psalm 19:12-13 ESV)

On a recent home makeover show, the crew discovered critical support beams were rotted down inside the concrete. The rotten wood was concealed until the time was spent in a very close inspection.  Some of the concrete had to be chipped away to reveal the state of these beams. If left in place, the balcony would have collapsed. The problem with hidden faults is that they are hidden. Spending regular time alone with God focused on hearing from Him is a pathway toward discovering secret sins. Sometimes praying for the Holy Spirit to reveal what we can’t see by ourselves.

Have you set aside time recently for a heart inspection with your Heavenly Father?

Finally, the day of the “big reveal” comes on the renovation show, and the changes are put on display. Fresh flowers and candles are added to make a clear outward sign of all the work that has been done.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

(Psalm 19:14 ESV)

A true heart renovation is revealed by what I say, how I think, and what I care about and value. These are the visible signs of all that has been changed within. We are walking about as living evidence of what God is doing to transform us every single day.

Do the words of your mouth and how you spend your time and talent reveal God’s priorities?

Lord, thank you that you long to transform with the ultimate makeover to restore hope, reveal hidden problems, and support sustainable growth and change. Show me how to begin that work today. Amen.

Does your parched soul need some drip irrigation?

(a photo of pink roses)

In the middle of the 1970s, my Welsh-born father brought our family from England to Texas. After purchasing a modest home in the Spring Branch area, he created an English Rose Garden. Popular gardening wisdom warned him that this might be impossible, but he took the challenge in stride. Clad in his favorite bicentennial shorts, he set out to create the perfect place for delicate roses to thrive in the harsh Texas climate.
He built a raised flower bed with railroad ties to provide proper drainage. He filled it with premium soil. Before planting those rose bushes, he added a drip irrigation system. This form of steady watering was truly the best kept rose growing secret. Roses love moist soil. If you know Texas summers, you know the two kinds of weather: monsoon and drought. None of those gentle, soaking rains around here. It is all or nothing. My father’s efforts were rewarded with the most spectacular display of rose blooms that wrapped our entire front garden in a rainbow of colors.
Gardeners must provide all that is need for plants to thrive. Because God is a faithful tender of my soul, he provides the Bible to give practical guidance on soul care and to keep. The book of Psalms is one of my favorite places to find this kind of wisdom.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.

(Psalm 19:7-9 ESV)

We all need a drip irrigation system of daily exposure to God’s word. A once-weekly reading of the Bible at church might last for a day or two, but it is the daily infusion to revive us and keep us thriving.
Verses 7-9 of Psalm 19 identify three soul care essentials.

  • law, commandments, precepts
  • testimonies
  • fear or proper reverence or respect

The Law – we have to know the law or the commandments to follow them. God is our designer, and he knows all about our design capacity. Can someone function well without sleep? No. Did you know that God actually directs us to rest in His word? Can someone lie or steal and suffer zero consequences? No. God’s guidance is always for our good, and we need daily reminders less we wander off course.

Testimonies—God directs his people to share with one another about what He is doing in each of our lives. (1 Chronicles 16:8) He knows we need the reminder, and sharing testimonies is a powerful way to encourage others.

Fear- God wants us to remember to show respect for Him and for all He has created. When we lose touch with this principle, suffering follows quickly.

How can we make daily Bible reading a part of our lives? How do we make that drip irrigation of Bible verses an essential part of each day?

First, figure out your best learning style. Are you a visual learner, an audio learner, or a tactile-kinesthetic learner (someone who learns best through movement or touch)?

Second, test-drive some different ways to take in scripture daily. Since I am an audio learner, I listen to a podcast that reads scripture daily, and it takes me through the whole Bible in one year. So it’s a daily 15-20 minute investment that really makes a difference for me.What could a visual learner do? First, find a daily scripture reading program that would give you daily doses of scripture that could be read in less than 15-20 minutes. What about tactile-kinesthetic learners? Try moving as you listen to scripture. I actually walk while listening, and this helps my focus.

Thank you, Lord that your law is perfect. Thank you, that it has the power to revive my parched soul today and always. Thank you that testimonies about what you have done for me and others are sure certain and and daily reminders of your kindness. Thank that your guidance makes wise the simple. I could really use an extra measure of your wisdom today. Thank you that your precepts are right, and they bring joy to my battered heart. Your commandment is pure, and enlightening to my eyes when I don’t know what to do or where to go. Help me to recognize and respect you and be cleansed by drawing near to you. Thank you that in an ever-changing world, all of this is enduring forever; your rules are true, and righteous altogether. When I cry out to you, I am restored. AMEN

How about you? How will you take in your daily dose of scripture?

Sunrise Sightings of the Kingdom of God

Don’t you just love a good home or backyard makeover show? Evidently, everyone does because it is entirely satisfying to spend less than an hour watching the entire transformation from broken to beautiful, gross to gorgeous, and so forth. A home renovation or backyard makeover typically takes months, but pop on your favorite streaming service, and you can witness a swift restoration. It’s a quick fix! As humans, we are drawn to renewal. I believe it is a glimpse into the now and not yet living in God’s Kingdom. God is in the business of renovating our lives for His glory. Will a setback be turned into a setup for a miraculous display of restoration? Psalm 19 begins with recordings of these kinds of sightings in the world all around us.

1The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

(Psalm 19:1-6 ESV)

God appears in all aspects of creation. His presence is translated from the skies to the earth. In every 24-hour cycle, His presence is revealed from the first light to the dark of night. There is no part of earth or resident of this planet who doesn’t experience the warmth of God’s presence. He covers every inch of the world and makes Himself known over and over in so many different ways because He is so kind. He wants everyone to see and experience Him. This drives His endless creativity to show up in new ways every single day and night. Those twinkling stars, that staggering moon, and the sunrise every morning is a clear reminder that His mercies are new every morning. He’s at work in a makeover every single day.

If your schedule permits, consider getting up about thirty minutes before the sun is scheduled to rise. Check the weather app on your phone, and it will tell you when the sun will be coming up. Find a place outside where you can sit, sip coffee (a pretty essential part for me), and watch the first light of the sunrise begin to fill the sky. It’s a slow-motion reveal. Don’t take your eyes off the horizon for even a minute. A soft but growing glow begins the display. Then fingers of light poke up and out. Incrementally the sun appears and then hangs suspended between earth and the sky. So often, there is a vivid display of many colors. The sun almost appears to be paused, and yet it surges on. Finally, it is fully sprung and released to fill the sky with brightness.

This soul tending activity is a sacred practice done in the quiet hours of the early morning. It feels like a secret that God is sharing just with you. But, most of all, it is a reminder of God’s power to make all things new. A momentary glimpse into the promise of eternity in a new heaven and earth gives us strength to face another day. These are sunrise sightings of the Kingdom of God.

Lord, open my eyes to your displays of majesty. Help me to see what you are doing in the world around me every day to prove who you are. Thank you for the sunrises. Thank you for reminding me of the ways you are renewing me and your world. Amen.