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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Butterfly on Sedum
Monarch butterfly on Autumn Joy Sedum

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"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:1,2).
We have many herbs and flowers in our front and back yard that attract butterflies. All along our front walkway Brooksyne has planted Sedum which attracts all sorts of flying insects including butterflies. I'm sure you would agree with me that butterflies are at the top of the desirable insect list for photography enthusiasts.

One of the first really big words I recall learning (probably in 4th grade science) was "metamorphosis", the scientific word describing this transformation. The butterfly larvae feed for about two weeks developing into worm like caterpillars about 2 inches long. Next it will transform into a pupa (or chrysalis) and in about two weeks complete the transformation into a colorful butterfly.

Tomorrow is my spiritual birthday. Thirty-six years ago I responded to an altar call in Kansas City and invited Christ to reside in my heart. Sadly I floundered for about a year, trying to keep one foot in the world rather than being fully sold out to the Lord. 

One of my earliest memories of one-on-one discipling was based on our daily verse. I sat down in a restaurant in Independence, Missouri and talked seriously with a friend who wanted to help me in my Christian walk.  He drew a diagram on a napkin illustrating this truth and I have often drawn spiritual strength and encouragement from that teaching through the years. Those who have had me as a pastor have seen me use this illustration.

The illustration was basically the same as the "garbage in/garbage out" model we often hear (this became particularly common in the computer age). Essentially you are what you eat not only physically but spiritually. Feed on ungodly music, movies, books, magazines and so forth and you will have that type of character reproduced in your life. Feed on the Word of God,
solid teaching, godly music, and so forth and Christ's character will be reproduced in you.

God is in the process of transforming us.  In fact the word for "transform" in the daily text is the very Greek word we get "metamorphosis" from. The Scriptures call us to assume personal responsibility in the God-ordained process of transformation. In each step of the butterfly's development it merely follows the pattern the Creator designed for it. I do not believe there is any internal resistance on the part of the butterfly to being transformed.

However in our case we battle sin, the flesh, and the devil. But God's intention is so very clear in the first verse. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."

As a result of this we have a duty in conforming no longer to the pattern of this world.  
 Instead we are to pattern our attitudes and actions after the likeness of Christ because our minds are being renewed. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will."

We don't see things in the same way that we viewed them before Jesus revealed Himself to us. This spiritual transformation is not for a short season, but a lifelong process. We are being transformed and this phase will not be fully completed until the next stage of our existence, when we go to heaven.

God no longer asks us to offer blood sacrifices, but instead He calls us to offer up our body to Him as a "living sacrifice".  This means we must continually surrender our body, mind and spirit to Him, which is holy and pleasing to God and this is our spiritual act of worship.  

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, I pray that You would help me to fully turn away from behaviors and viewpoints that compromise my devotion to You.  I want to be wholly devoted to You as I am being transformed into Your likeness.  May the lure of this world lessen as the Light of Your Word increases in my life.  Amen. 

Here's one of my favorite butterfly photos!
Blue butterfly
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Last week I shared a brief quiz using an image of a specific Greek text. I wonder how many readers, particularly my minister friends, can identify the Greek word translated "transformed" in the image below? (No need to respond.) Many of you will look at it and say, "It's all Greek to me!" And it really is.
Greek Scripture portion

Amber and Lauren
Lauren Gingrich playing Viola, Amber Martin at the Keyboard

Amber is a young mother who attends our local church.  Brooksyne enjoyed working with her for several years as she accompanied the choir and praise team.  Lauren went to school with Ester and graduated in June.  She will now be attending the Philadelphia Biblical University to study Bible and music.  We featured a prayer that Lauren wrote and shared at their public high school Baccalaureate service in a previous daily encouragement message.  She also played "Be Thou My Vision" on her viola at the graduation ceremony. Brooksyne was so moved by that number that she asked her to join Amber at the keyboard in playing several hymns for a CD. More information will be forthcoming about this CD and online resource in weeks to come. You can listen to two of the songs they shared yesterday in our "home studio" by clicking the following audios:

"Tis So Sweet" (audio)
"Great Is Thy faithfulness" (audio)

On her photo blog our friend Doris High has been chronicling in amazing close detail the metamorphosis process of a butterfly.

Finally today: This song came to mind and we were able to find it as a video. The video feature the song by Third Day and a group of young people doing "Human Video."  It's a neat way for kids to express their faith and we used it in the church I pastored in New England.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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