A better way to honor change

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Romans 6:12-14

There is something my youngest pokes fun at me any chance he can for saying-“The ‘p’ in pastor doesn’t stand for ‘perfect.’”He repeats it anytime he recalls some slip of tongue in the car in the past at an inept driver, any transgression deemed unbefitting of someone “called” to lead a flock from the past 10-13 years of his life. “I know. I know. ‘P’ in pastor doesn’t stand for “perfect.”

Why have I had to say this so many times until it’s almost some ridiculous mantra repeated at dinner? Because, yes. I struggled with road rage for a number of years, and my children were witness to it. During those moments, a range of 4 letter words would flow, and my kids reminded me they were not appropriate. But what bothered me most? Even after I was “reformed,” started waving instead when someone flipped me off, and stopped cursing when someone cut me off, was that they just never let me forget it. Hence the need to remind them that the process of sanctification, was a process. Even for pastors.

Paul even reminds the Roman church of this in Chapter 6, in his letter to them, reminding them of where “perfection” comes-through their new life in Christ.

But how many of us are like my children at times? Continuing to bring up the used-to’s? The behaviors before Jesus came in and cleaned up that mess, before we fully surrendered, and handed over all those sinful practices to Him? Are we just not willing to let it go? That person whether pastor or not, may have truly decided not to let sin control them-whether it’s cursing or something else, but we won’t stop bringing up their old desire to do so-so we deny the work of the Spirit in their lives, look past what God has done to move them through a process of change, and fail to celebrate the new life that has been born. They start to believe…well, they will just never be “perfect” enough for you.

There is a better way. Paul also talks about it to another church. The church in Corinth, when he talks about something else we view as perfect by the world’s standards-love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes perfect love-Christian love. He says, this type of love does not keep a record of wrongs (v5). In addition, this “perfect” love, never loses faith and is always hopeful (v7). So, someone loving and celebrating new life, displaying Christian love; would not harp on another’s flaws, but would rejoice in the making new.

Are we walking this better way-with others or even with ourselves? Focused on the making new, in the dead life we were removed from when Jesus called us out of those ways into something better? If we are still holding onto the old, can we let it go, so we can truly help others move forward in the Christ-like “perfection,” and ourselves as well?

Because He certainly did. And He expects us to as well.

Get Focused on the New

This means that the anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The old life is gone, a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The mere fact that I began writing this today, and failed to notice I am repeating a daily verse, is most likely evidence that I have been distracted. Distracted by a number of issues. Tasks. Pressing matters. Some of these tasks have been good things. Even “God” things. Some due to illness. Some of these are courtesy of the tools the devil uses to keep us focused on him instead of God.

Whether good, God, or other-they are distractions, nonetheless. When the old habit of picking up your phone first thing in the morning overpowers picking up your Bible. When the work deadlines become greater, and the finish line to get there takes precedence over your usual study routine. Your old patterns of sleeping an hour later instead of getting up to pray with Him get in. And then some of those other old patterns creep back in-some you gave up when you put on your new Christ nature.

You are now distracted.

Though, yes, Satan most definitely uses temptation. The sin kind. The obvious one to keep us distracted from seeking time with God, he can also use less obvious tools, as well. Some may even come in the form of “good” things. Things that can be useful in the kingdom, but if we do them in the spirit of our old selves, the selves from which God redeemed us-then these things are no longer “good.”

For us anyway.

They are now distractions. From OUR greater purpose. They may be good for someone else. They may have been good at another time. But for who we are now-not so much.

Writing is this “good” thing for me. Yet, why had it become my distraction?

See…this new thing God had done in me? It had inspired a desire to tell others about this new thing. To write all these thoughts I had about Him as I spent time with Him. And to not keep those to myself. It bred in me a desire to stop being liked by the world, and to embrace the person God liked. Loved, even. Writing sparked joy. It lived inside me, and I loved this person who God had created, and it took a long time to get there. A long time to make sense of who she was, and how He was using her.

But distraction made this “new” thing “old” again. Something to check off a list. How I deemed myself worthy. Someone to be approved and liked by the masses. Decided I had anything of worth to say based on whether anyone read it, viewed it, or liked it.

Distracted.

It is time to remember who God made “new.” It is time to focus on the woman God turned me into when He made me that way. Not distracted by a duty to read His Word, but captured by the pure desire to learn more about Him, to spend time with Him, to listen for Him, and to write about those experiences because it brings me joy. And in doing so, I am no longer distracted. In fact, I in turn irritate Satan.

It is time to focus on this joy so I can be fueled again by His purpose, not by the old desire to be approved by people, but only by the One who has given me a desire to do something with the gifts He has given me. Those things I can only do when I am focused on Him, and less distracted.

So…for a time, I am writing solely for me (well, for Him). Solely in my quiet time, without screens. No laptop. No agenda. No laid-out plan. No checklist. Letting Him lead. Letting Him guide. Sharing as He directs.

Undistracted. Completely focused on Him.

Redeemed from the Past

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The past. There are times we look back on the past with nothing but nostalgic feelings of good times. We look through scrapbooks of pictures that show happy faces, memories of places we have been, things we have seen. These memories stir up joy, happiness, and even longing for the times where things seemed easier.

The past. Some are still stuck in it. And not the happier moments. Stuck in the pain of past hurts. Past choices. The person we were before. Some may even be people who won’t allow us to let go of these choices. Friends. Relatives. People with whom we work, and navigate through life daily. Not willing to let go of a person we may no longer be.

You know who else won’t let go of the past? Satan. He knows your triggers. He knows your past sin. And just as some people can’t help but remind us-he can’t either.

There are some mistakes we have made. Some jumps we have taken. Some falls. That we don’t want people to know about. And if they do know about them, we don’t want them to be brought up again. Because they aren’t cool scars. They aren’t the kind that make you feel tough. They are the kind that only remind you of a past you thought you escaped. That everyone had forgotten. 

Until something reminds you again.

And I found myself here in the last two weeks. Triggered by so many things from my past. And it was stupid, little stuff. But it was enough to nag at me, until I started focusing on the scars that the past left behind. My sin scars. Not my grace scars. 

So, first-maybe you are wondering what are grace scars? 

Those grace scars. They are the nail-pierced hands of Jesus. They are the scars that bore the sin we try so hard to hide. Others try so hard to remember, and can’t seem to forget. Those are grace scars. And when the past kept coming back to me, I kept forgetting this grace that was given to me because of those scars that Jesus carries.

Because see, this new scar I now have, I don’t like it. Satan uses it to beat me down and make me believe that I am no longer who God believes me to be.

It is on my right wrist. It’s courtesy of surgery I had to have after I broke my wrist from a fall back in October of 2020. I don’t really like to talk about it much. Falls happen. I have fallen before, never broken a bone. But, 2020…right?

But this fall was also different. A bit harder. It happened during a time when I was really doubting God’s purpose in anything going on in my life. The people in it. The things going on. Nothing was adding up or making sense. I spent more time screaming angry prayers at Him, and asking Him why, and didn’t like any of His answers. Nor did I like any of the waiting. So…I did things my way, and ultimately got in the way. I tried to play God. I forgot who I was. And, well….I guess God knocked me down, so to speak.

So I don’t like this scar. It’s angry looking. And when I look at the jagged “S,” that now lives there, I don’t hear the voice of God. I hear a different one. The one that reminds me of my past sin scars, and not my grace one. That tells me this jagged “S” is for words like “shameful.” “Sinner.” “Stupid.” “Silly.” “Soiled.” Some I don’t care to even mention, just want to forget. It’s like I’ve been branded with a scarlet letter of anything Satan wants to use to help me doubt my salvation or self-worth.

Of course that is what Satan wants me to believe. But His word says in Micah 7:18-19:

You will not stay angry with your people forever,
    because you delight in showing unfailing love.
 Once again you will have compassion on us.
    You will trample our sins under your feet
    and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Which means-He gave us Jesus. To pay for those sins. To cover all those scars. So God has forgotten. Those mistakes. All of them, were buried somewhere in the sea. We ask for forgiveness, and repent. He forgets. The only one remembering any of it is Satan, and maybe a couple earthly people.

 And when we profress our belief, we hear new words. 

Words like:

Saved.

Set apart.

Seen.

Secure.

Smart.

Strong.

Redeemed.

To others, your scars may be a reminder of your checkered past, but to God they are the a reason He extends to us His grace and mercy. We have the choice to receive it. Are we going to walk in His grace, as one redeemed, or keep letting others remind us of those things He has forgotten?

Me? I choose grace. I choose mercy. I choose to believe the things God tells me that have nothing to do with my past.

I do not own rights to music, lyrics, or video.

April Bible Reading Plan: How is Your Character?

Jesus.

I wanted this month’s plan to be about Jesus, because that’s what Easter is really all about. Not candy. Not baskets. Not bunnies. Jesus. And his sacrifice for our salvation. 

And all things do point back to him. As they have in so many discussions I have had about character recently, and the way we choose to live. The choices we make. Both the wise and unwise. 

I have thought about how to appropriately study Jesus this month. Most will study his miracles. His death. His resurrection. And those are all so important, as they pave the way for someone to seek salvation. Yet, with that salvation comes something. A new way of life. A new way of life that many may not quite understand. Know how to walk, or to be ready for. 

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him,  throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:21-24, NLT

The making new means a change occurs instantly. Yes. Sin is wiped clean. But new habits begin to form. Those old desires are beginning to shed because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. A shift in character should develop. And we start to look different, have a desire to make different choices. Our journey with Jesus begins as he develops our Christ-like character. 

Some of the development takes a little longer. It’s harder to shed. But it’s necessary if we want to reflect his light. 

If our intended goal is to be like him, we develop a different character. A character that reflects his. We “walk it like we talk it,” as they say. So this month’s reading plan is focused on just that-walking in that character-Christian character.

Let’s start.

Because this is where many believe the journey begins. With the way you look. And that belief goes WAY back to Jesse and his boys. 

This was on display as my husband and I were preparing for my second ordination meeting a week or so ago. As we sat waiting, a couple came out ahead of us. He had this idea to play “guess who is the pastor” between the two. The man or woman of the couple. It was clearly the man. He looked like he had been through the ringer, and I knew that look. I knew exactly what that “look” felt like. The look of defeat. Then came this question: “Which one of us do you think they think is the ordination candidate?” My response was easy. He had on a tie. I was not under dressed. But my tattoos were showing, and come on…I am a woman. “You. They think it is you. You are a well dressed man. I am a woman.”

Appearances mean something. And we ALL judge them. We judge clothing. We judge whether someone is good or bad based on the markings they have on their skin. We judge another’s abilities based on their appearance. Stature. Build. Looks. We are fortunate that God does not do this.

I was reminded of this again recently when the story of David’s anointing was mentioned. in 1 Samuel 16. God sends Samuel to the house of Jesse, father of 8 sons, to anoint the next King. God warns Samuel not to be deceived by stature, build, or outward appearance: Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7, NLT

Samuel arrives and Jesse’s seven sons are parading around the house, trying to impress Samuel; doing all they can to prove they are most certainly the chosen. There is one missing. The runt. Out serving in the fields. The one chosen by God to be anointed king.

God chose the smallest of the litter to be the one. The one who was forgotten, who Jesse didn’t even mention, but who had a heart after God, and was serving. He chose that one.

And that is what He sees. He does not see your size, and goodness knows there are many times I have felt like nothing but a runt of a woman, with a twang of a voice, misunderstood, and unworthy because of it. Seen for the markings on my skin, and not for my abilities, but knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God sees beyond any of these things to the gifts I use to serve Him.

That is what we look for in others as well. Beyond the clothes. Beyond the pitch or tone we don’t quite like. Beyond the tattoos we just don’t quite get, or we would never get. Not your thing? Ok. But is Jesus? Does he have your heart? Does he have theirs? Then that is what matters. The only that matters to God, and what should matter to us, too.

Can You Handle the Truth?

Test me Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind. For your faithful love guides me, and I live by your truth. Psalm 26:2-3

Here is a question: Do we truly want God to examine our hearts? Our minds? To place before us all the practices, actions, and thoughts demonstrating that we are often moved by our desires and carnal nature?

Wanting this, and asking God to do this for us, is in fact what being a “person after God’s heart” looks like. It is asking Him to examine what is within us, and to allow Him to cleanse anything that doesn’t resemble Him from the inside out. We desire for Him to change our mindset, our actions, and our desires.

This seems so appealing, right? Then why don’t more people want this transformation? If the Word says-“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), then why don’t more seek His truth? Want this freedom?

Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:43-44, NLT

Seems harsh and blunt, but I didn’t say it-Jesus did. He was keeping it pretty real here. The truth doesn’t sound pleasant when we want to continue in ways that reflect dishonesty. When we want to continue to chase after the things the devil tells us makes us worthy, successful, loved, and admired. When he feeds us with the notion that the world can provide all we need. Doing the right thing doesn’t seem so appealing, when the wrong thing feels just fine. And well, who is getting hurt, right?

The truth sounds ridiculous because the lie is more appealing. The truth sounds boring because the lie is more fun. The truth offers blessings that cannot be measured, and that you have to wait for; while the lie offers instant gratification, and goods we can enjoy to our hearts content right now.

Even if our hearts are still empty. Unloving. Deceitful. And still feeling worthless, despite the false bill of goods Satan has promised. The lie sounds much more like truth when you are still in the dark.

Asking God to examine the junk that is in our hearts and minds; those things that don’t reflect His truth and goodness will hurt, and we will go through some struggles during the transforming. Who wants to struggle?

But-He assures us that the other side is beautiful: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

And it’s all worth it, if you can handle His truth.

Celebrate the Old You

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

I sat at my desk looking outside at the snow, just beginning to melt off the railings. The ice that we had not yet shoveled off the steps for the mail carrier’s trek up them. At the flag that waved in the breeze. The flag with its holes, rips, and tears that I had not noticed before. Worn out by wind, weather, and all the beatings it had taken flying outside my front porch. Torn and tattered from the storms of its past.

Yet when many of us look at the flag, we celebrate its rips, and its tears. The twists. The turns. The places it has gone. The storms that have ripped it to shreds. We glorify it.

But people? We pick those rips and tears apart. We use them to somehow discount how far they have come from the storms and trials that created those scars. We may even see a new creation, and continue to look underneath for the proof that a tear still exists.

Here’s the deal:

Those rips. Those tears. The past that left scars and marks of shame and regret, people from our past may still live there. And they may still see them somewhere in the back of their mind. But, when we accept Christ, he makes us new. That old person, the person others still want to see, it doesn’t exist anymore. That past doesn’t define us. Those scars may still be there, but they only exist as part of testimony that shows beauty lives there among brokenness. It is only a part of our story, but not the chapter we live in any longer.

And I’ll testify of the battles you’ve won/How you were my portion when there wasn’t enough/I’ll sing a song of the seas that we crossed/The waters you parted/The waves that I walked. -Maverick City Music

Those battles and trials. Those scars tell a story of a redeeming God. A God who cleans up messes and makes things new. Who wins those battles. Who fills all those tears and holes. Who sees only beauty when everyone can only see ashes.

So light a match. Burn those memories from the past. Get up and dance if you want, while you stomp out all those voices that remind you of your stinky, torn, and rotten past. Because that old you…it tells a story, yes it does. But the new you tells one of an amazing God! That’s something to celebrate!

I do not own rights to music, video, or lyrics.

They Don’t Know You; God Does

I woke up distracted this morning.  

I make a vow during my time with God to not use my phone, but I found this morning I spent a large amount of time on it. Good things had happened in the last couple days. A new energy was all around. A new “stepping into.” Prayers that had been prayed it had been revealed, had also been prayed in the “meanwhile” elsewhere.

So…my distraction was most certainly a rouse from Satan. An attack. A countermeasure for me to not move into what was coming. What lies ahead. What good was before me.

In the distraction came doubt. 

If you think after you accept Christ, that Satan leaves you alone-think again. If you think because you are a pastor, you are immune to an attack from the evil one-think again. In actuality, you are more susceptible. You are the one he really wants. You are the one he loves to get to. Because if he can get to you, well then he can get to more of God’s people. 

He uses distraction to get to me often. And it occurs frequently on my phone. With social media. Not all social media. One in particular. That ole place where you find the people you are supposed to know. And you connect to them. In the hopes to what? I’ve only just begun to really figure it out.

I don’t know at what point I started feeling lonely. Unsupported. Inadequate. Shamed. It may have been a post about alcohol. And the things I knew had been said about alcohol in the past. It may have been the people I “knew” here who I didn’t really know anymore. Who I didn’t really feel much support from. Who didn’t really hype me up in the way strangers often did. 

Who knew my past, and the past of others I know, and for whatever reason remained stuck there. In the past. 

But, the people we knew in our past don’t often celebrate the fact that you have cast-off your old life and chosen a new one. Why? 

They want to remember the person they knew. The person that was chained to poor patterns and toxic behaviors. The person who allowed them to be, too. They are so tied to the old you, and their own patterns, they can’t accept that a new person can be made from that old mess. They remember your Saul.

Those other people? The people who didn’t know that old you. They see something of inspiration, and they want more. They support you. As you are now. You don’t remind them of a past they can’t seem to get themselves out of. To them, you are Paul.

I was asked this question recently: “Why do you want to become an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene?”

I realize I can go online and be ordained for 50 bucks. I can do that all while continuing to live in the sin and shame I had been living in before. But God didn’t want that for me.

If someone had told me in my teens I would one day be a pastor, I would have laughed at them. I didn’t go to church. I can count on one hand the times I did. I didn’t particularly like God. I made many a wrong turn, and yes-just like most in my hometown some of those wrong turns led to shameful decisions. 

But God.

He made me new. Those decisions don’t shape me anymore. I am still January at the core. I am just not led by my desires. My impulses. But by my Father. His desires. His will. My only gain is to inspire someone to see that if God can do that for me, He can do that for anyone. Anyone who doesn’t want to be defined by their past. Anyone who doesn’t care who knows what about them, but wants to be known by a God who knows everything about them and approves and loves them anyway.

Don’t get distracted by those who knew you, and only talk about your past. Get distracted by the God who knows all about you, and wants you to know Him, too. 

WWJD: Do Good Anyway

Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:24, NLT

David. David was the chosen King. Anointed to be King as a young boy, at the surprise of his brothers. His brothers who all believed they should be chosen. They were older. Stronger. David was just a shepherd boy. A runt.

David. The man with a colored past. An adulterer. Who covered up his sin by sending the woman’s husband to be killed. A murderer. Yet, still chosen.

The writer of many Psalms. Both beautiful and angry. He was hunted by men who believed he should pay for his past. Who believed he was unworthy to be a king. No good. That God had made a mistake.

Saul believed God had made a mistake. But David and God knew differently.

See, David had failed in many ways. He knew he had. But, prior to his writing of his many praises. His many songs, he has his reckoning with God. He came clean. David confessed his sins.

But God was not at all pleased with what David had done, and sent Nathan to David. Nathan said to him, “There were two men in the same city—one rich, the other poor. The rich man had huge flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. The poor man had nothing but one little female lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up with him and his children as a member of the family. It ate off his plate and drank from his cup and slept on his bed. It was like a daughter to him. “One day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor, so he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared a meal to set before his guest.” David exploded in anger. “As surely as God lives,” he said to Nathan, “the man who did this ought to be lynched! He must repay for the lamb four times over for his crime and his stinginess!” “You’re the man!” said Nathan. 1 Samuel 12:1-7

Nathan proceeds to tell David all he had done, letting him know what God planned to do about this sin David had committed, and David replies in this manner: “I’ve sinned against God.” (verse 13). David confesses. God forgives. David then sins no more.

And here in the Psalms we see that no, David doesn’t die just as God promises in verse 14, but he is tormented. Just as the Word promised, He was punished by God. His son died, and later on his other turned against him. He did not live a life without trials. However, he did something that was especially important-he did not sin again. He did not repeat his past. And God never brought it up.

It’s why he was known as a “man after God’s heart.” He vowed to be holy. He vowed to live a life that God would be proud of. He wanted to live a life that was worthy of the lineage of Jesus.

See, David understood this:

Turn from evil and do good,
    and you will live in the land forever.
 For the Lord loves justice,
    and he will never abandon the godly. Psalm 37:27-28,
NLT

God gives us the opportunity to ask Him for another chance. He gives us the ability to walk in righteousness again, not because we are good. Not because we even deserve it, but because HE is good. And see David? He was called a “man after God’s heart,” because he knew what it was like to be separated from Him. To live tormented by the pain he had caused God for not doing what He had asked, and he never wanted to do it again. He only wanted to do good. He decided to turn around, and walk a different way.

And people didn’t like it. They didn’t like that he could make mistakes, and still be seen as “good.”

You know why? Because we judge the past of others. We judge people based on their choices, not on their hearts. The Bible tells us this: The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

It’s true. We judge. And appearances are not just what others look like. We judge the past. We judge failure. We judge mistakes. Whether they are overcome or not. We hold onto the sins of others as if they define that person forever. Even if they repent and never do it again.

But there is good news. God doesn’t do this. No, once we do as David did, no matter the sinful deed-big or small. When we say, “God, I confess. I sinned against you.” He offers us forgiveness. In fact, God will have compassion on us. He will trample our sins under His feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! (Micah 7:19)

We may be slandered. We may be mocked. We may still have our sins held onto by people. We may be cast out of certain places. People may not believe we have changed. May continue to only see us as a mistake, but it doesn’t matter, because God knows we are after His heart, and because of this, we can continue to do good anyway.

If you knew me then…

“Do not call to mind the former things; pay no attention to the things of old.” Isaiah 43:18

Small towns are known for many things. Special places to dine. To gather. Lots of people who know you. Your family. Your past.

People who remember your past. The good. The bad. The ugly.

We all come from places where the past is hard to escape. Where people are holding onto the things we did and can’t wait to bring them up any ole time they deem necessary. But the past doesn’t just lurk in small towns. Or in high school hallways. Or other places we have tried diligently to escape.

It follows us around daily if we let it.

Satan loves our past. And he, like those small town gossips, loves to up bring our past and remind us of it when we already feel down. He will even remind us of it when we have started to turn from it, to tempt us back into old patterns.

Satan wants us to never forget it.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17. NLT

God remembers our past, as well. But unlike Satan he wants us to turn from it. And no matter how sinful or bad it may be, He will never bring it up once we ask for Him to help us clean it up. He will never remind us of what our old way of life may have been, but shows us what our new way of life can be.

It’s for this reason that on the days Satan or a person uses my past to taunt, or I slip back into thoughts of worthlessness, I remind myself of this:

If you knew me in my teens, you knew me in my teens. If you knew me in my 20s, you knew me in my 20s. If you knew me in my 30s, you knew me in my 30s. If you knew me in my past, before God cleaned me up and made me new, you knew me in my past.

God cleaned up a broken, rejected, lost version of each of these, and He never reminds me of these past versions. Only the parts of her that are beautiful and worthy.

If He cleaned up a broken, rejected, lost version of you, no one else should remind you of yours either.

If you haven’t gotten there yet, it’s not too late. You can have a past that God will erase. You can be made new. Just seek Him, repent, and ask Him. Then don’t run to that past again.

I do not own rights to this video, lyrics, or music.

On finding acceptance in an old hometown

Hometowns. They can bring such feelings of security. Safety. The feeling of being at home. But there’s a flip side. Those hometowns often become the place we never feel at home. Not accepted. Only remembered for all the mistakes you made. A person you likely are not anymore

Jesus was no stranger to being rejected by His own hometown.

He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He stole the show, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further. Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness. He left and made a circuit of the other villages, teaching. Mark 6:1-6 MSG

This passage was one we discussed in our Sunday services. I pastor a small congregation of Liberian refugees. Their hometown is nothing like mine. Our experiences vastly different. They left their hometown and fleed from an entire continent to a foreign land. I never left mine.

Regardless of the differences, our hometowns have certain opinions and expectations of us. Because of who we were, and because of who we are now.

The same was true for Jesus. He went back to Nazareth, his hometown. He spent time teaching about His Father, the path to righteousness, and what did his peers do? Remembered his prior occupation. Took note of his family history. Who he had been, not who he was. Who he had become.

This kind of stuff is the way of life when you consider small towns. If Jesus, the Son of God was no stranger, certainly we are not either. It’s honestly pervasive throughout our human, earthly experience.

We gossip. We talk about people we don’t even know based on something someone said about a person they “used” to know. Or were hurt by. We take that as the gospel and run with it, and we fail to look beyond.

We only see what man sees.

A “new” person, as one who has “become” someone else. Left our past mistakes behind, we are only remembered for our old life by those who knew us. Know our family. Our past. We are still reduced to our past mistakes. Things we did then that we no longer do. Those who knew us then, only remember our family legacy. We can’t seem to rise up and be accepted in our born place, because so many are holding on to a person we have given to Christ. A person transformed.

A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family. Mark 6:4, NLT

Sometimes we can’t transform and flourish in our own hometowns.

Ever heard the phrase “the proof is in the pudding?” What this means, is that the proof of its true value. Its true effectiveness. Its true success. Its power is in “eating.” In tasting what was produced. Food aside, and inserting people-its in actually interacting. Knowing, and being around these people. Tasting that the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit is good. It’s not based on what you hear. What someone else’s opinion is, because not everyone will like pudding. And some will only choose to remember when it wasn’t so sweet.

Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Luke 7:35,MSG

You. You decide for yourself. Do those you knew then, but have chosen a different path now, do their actions reflect truth? Do they do what they say they will do? Do they keep promises? Are they known by their fruit…the ones God produces-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

Are you still holding on to a person who has been transformed and no longer lives that way? Are you still holding onto bitterness and anger from some family history that has nothing to do with the person in front of you?

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

That person has been made new, too. They just happen to live in a hometown that remembers their past. Hasn’t seen their transformation.

Next time someone comes at you with a smear campaign. Examine the pudding. Taste it for yourself. If it’s good, ignore that voice that keeps telling you otherwise, and simply believe in what you know and what you see.

And if the pudding is as bad as you were told. If patterns have evolved, never changed, still exist; and well the fruit that is still produced is a bit spoiled…then you can listen to that person who hasn’t let go. However, you don’t need to hold onto the hurt. Pray. Pray God changes the pattern. Pray God starts producing a different “pudding.”

Examine the pudding. Choose your own path to determining if the fruit is good. And don’t let those wrongs jade your opinion of a person changed by God.

Don’t allow a prophet, a new creation to be rejected in his own hometown.