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Friday, August 19, 2016

Butterfly on flower (Photo by Ester Weber)
Ester took this untouched photo of a Swallowtail butterfly in our zinnia garden!
(Click on photo for larger view)

"Spiritual Metamorphosis"

Message Summary: 
God no longer asks us to offer blood sacrifices, but instead He calls us to offer up our body  as a "living sacrifice". A reality of being a living sacrifice is the tendency to keep jumping off the altar. This means we must continually surrender our body, mind and spirit to Him, which is holy and pleasing to God and is our spiritual act of worship.

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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).

Our flower gardens are teeming with life. Alongside our front walkway our Autumn Joy Sedum attracts all sorts of flying insects including an assortment of butterflies. But the favorite landing spot for butterflies is the aptly named Butterfly Bush. I'm sure you would agree with us that butterflies are at the top of the most desireable insect list for photography enthusiasts. Today we share several of our favorite butterfly photos with Ester taking several of them.

One of the first really big words I recall learning (probably in grade school science) was "metamorphosis", the scientific word describing the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly. 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.

August 22 (next Monday) is my spiritual birthday. On that date in 1971 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.  My senior year I got involved with Campus Crusade for Christ which had a vibrant group of committed believers on my campus at Truman High School in Independence, MO.

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 probably seen me use this illustration.

Garbage in/garbage out
The illustration was essentially the same as the garbage in/garbage out model we've often heard related to computing. This is used to express the idea that in computing and other spheres, incorrect or poor quality input will always produce faulty output. 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 produced. Although not imagined by us when we sat around that table in early 1973 consider now the internet which is a source of so much harmful and helpful data. Feed on the Word of God, godly music, solid Bible-based teaching, godly relationships and so forth and Christ's character will develop in you.

God is in the process of transforming us.  The Scriptures call us to assume personal responsibility in the God-ordained process of transformation, spiritual metamorphosis. 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 to being transformed.

However in our case we battle sin, the flesh, and the devil. 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."

Romans 12:1,2

We have a duty in no longer
conforming to the pattern of this world. Instead we pattern our attitudes and actions after the likeness of Christ because our minds have been renewed. We don't see things in the same way we viewed them before Jesus revealed Himself to us. This spiritual transformation or metamorphosis is not for a short season, but is a lifelong process. We are being transformed and it seems that 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 as a "living sacrifice".  A reality of being a living sacrifice is the tendency to keep sliding off the altar. This means we must continually surrender our body, mind and spirit to Him, which is holy and pleasing to God and is our spiritual act of worship.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, 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 increase in my life. May my life be a pleasing sacrifice to You, my Father, as I lay it down at the foot of the cross where I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.  Amen. 

I wonder how many readers, particularly my minister friends, can identify the Greek word translated "transformed" in the image below?  Many of you will look at it and say, "It's all Greek to me!" And it really is.
Greek Scripture portion

Some of our butterflies!

Swallowtail Butterfly in flower garden 8/6/15

Ester took this photo of a swallowtail butterfly enjoying the zinnias just beyond our front porch.

(Click on photo for larger view)

Swallowtail Butterfly in flower garden 8/6/15
(Click on photo for larger view)

Black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar
Black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar
(Click on photo for larger view)

Black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar
I took this photo many years ago of an Eastern black swallowtail butterfly

Storm damage to barn, Kraybill Church Road 8/16/16
In Wednesday's message we shared this photo of damage to our Amish neighbor's barn from a storm Tuesday afternoon.

Amish barn rebuilt Kraybill Church Road 8/19/16
Here's how the recovery looked this morning!

Corn wagon 8/19/16
There's nothing like eating fresh corn brought in from the field.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Make My Life A Living Sacrifice"   Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Make My Life a Prayer to You"  Video   Keith Green

"Change My Heart Oh God"  Video 

Finally today:
Friendly pigeon
I know what you're thinking when you look at this photo! Luckily, Stephen allowed the domestic pigeon to roost in his hair with no "fall-out" to adorn his still dark hair. We both had fun with this friendly pigeon at Old Windmill Farm earlier this week.

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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