The Ugly Stool

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Last week our family had our annual yard sale at my parent’s house.  Usually the sale includes our family members only, however this year a few of their neighbors participated too.  One of their neighbors was selling items that were probably better suited for an estate sale or even an antique auction.  They were selling all sorts of vintage and antique pieces.  It was unbelievable!  Even though I was determined not to spend any of my yard sale profit this year, I couldn’t resist going over to take a peek at what was available.  As I made my way through all of these lovely antique items in mint condition, I spotted this stool.  It was sort of set off to the back as if they weren’t really interested in selling it or possibly using it as step stool in the garage to reach high shelves.

There was nothing fancy about this stool.  Unassuming, paint splattered, cracked, missing screws, weathered and wobbly – this stool was calling my name!  My guess is that the average person would walk right passed it, to the prettier and more valuable items.  Not me.  As I continued to look around, I couldn’t help but be drawn right back to this stool.  So, I asked the gentleman how much he wanted, and he said $3.00 – “Sold!” I shouted.   He then proceeded to tell me a story about how his mother used this stool to can foods for the winter when he was a boy.  He smiled as he shared this story with me and that made me even happier that I bought this piece.

There is just something about an ugly, but oh so cute piece of furniture that I cannot resist.  This stool definitely fit the bill.  I look at it and see so much potential.  Behind the rough, dirty and battered exterior is beautiful piece of furniture just waiting to shine!

I truly believe one of the reasons that I am drawn to pieces like this is because they remind me of myself.  Like many of the pieces that I have collected over the years, I have a dark past and a story to tell.  I have been through some extremely tough times in life and know what it’s like to feel beat up, neglected and worthless.  Just like this piece, I was completely comfortable being ignored and hiding in the background.  Many people would have preferred me to stay there as well.  Like this piece, I gave up on anyone ever wanting me or thinking that I was worth paying for, fixing up or investing time in.  Like this piece, I had hidden potential, but it would take a special person to recognize that and make me into something beautiful.  Can anyone else relate?

One of my absolute favorite verses in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

God, through His Son Jesus Christ, bought me.  He paid a high price for me.  Once I became His, He cleaned me, fixed me, polished me up and gave me a brand new heart.  He filled the empty places, repaired the broken places and beautified the ugly places. That’s not all. He gave me purpose.  A brand new purpose.  As I mentioned above, the stool that I bought wasn’t being used for much of anything.  Once I am done making it pretty, it will be used in a brand new way and have a new function and purpose in our home.

My motto for my furniture refurbishing business, as well as my life theme and one that I love to share with others is – All Things New!  We don’t have to be what we’ve always been. We can become new!

This is just a little reminder that, beyond the outer appearances, there is hidden potential in us all.  Sometimes that potential is covered up by the stains and pains of life, but it is still there waiting to be revealed.  May we begin to look passed the rough exterior of others and see what they could be with a little work.  Lead them to the Master Refurbisher – Jesus Christ!

Revelation 21:5 ~ And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

Pre-cleaning Not Required

 

Ah….the dentist.  The guy so many of us love to hate.  I actually don’t mind going to the dentist for teeth cleaning appointments. Our family actually had our bi-annual cleaning appointment recently. Before we left the house, I brushed and flossed my teeth like I always do.  When my husband saw me brushing, he looked at me with a very puzzled expression.  He asked me why I was cleaning my teeth. He continued to say, “Isn’t that the reason we are going to the dentist?” I laughed.  He was right!  Why was I cleaning my teeth right before I was going to get my teeth cleaned?! I never really thought about it before, but when I did, it seemed totally ridiculous. I guess my reason was that I was somewhat ashamed for my dentist to see me with dirty teeth. Since his specialty is teeth I always want him to see mine in their best condition – cleaned, flossed and freshly rinsed with mouth wash. I feel a little embarrassed admitting this to everyone, but it’s the truth. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is similar to what many of us do when it comes to God.

Have you ever met someone who says that they aren’t clean enough or good enough to come to Christ?  I have. I have witnessed to and invited several people to church that have told me they are not ready. Many people say that they have ‘work to do on themselves’, or that they have to ‘get things in order’ before they can approach God or have a relationship with Him. Some people have even told me that they won’t even enter a church building until their ‘lives are right’ out of fear that something bad would happen. I get the sense that most people feel this need to clean themselves up before having a relationship with God. I’m not sure where this idea comes from, but it is not true. In fact, it is quite the opposite – we go to God to get clean! 

Many people don’t realize or they forget that God created us and knows us better than we know ourselves.  He sees everything that we do, think and feel whether we acknowledge Him or not. Avoiding Him doesn’t help us at all. God knows just how imperfect we are and loves us still – unconditionally. He knows our hearts and our deepest thoughts. He knows our flaws, failures and insecurities better than we know them. He desires to have a relationship with us anyway. More than that, He wants us to trust Him.  He does not expect us to clean ourselves up before we come to Him.  He doesn’t want us to fix ourselves before getting to know Him. In fact, we are actually powerless to do so. God, is the only One who can change us completely.  We can try (kind of like me trying to clean my teeth ahead of time), but our ways do not work.  Sure we may be able to make ourselves look pretty on the outside, but God sees past the outer appearance to the deep places of our soul.  We may even be able to change certain behaviors with a little discipline, but that doesn’t deal with the root of the problem – sin.

When I brush my teeth, I am able to get some of the dirt off and my teeth may look a little nicer, however, there are things that I am unable to see, such as plaque, tartar, cavities or worse! It takes a specialist to thoroughly clean my teeth and repair these things by using his special tools and wisdom. In the same way, God is the only One who is qualified to remove our sin, clean us up and deal properly with the deep issues of our heart.  He is THE EXPERT!

Even when I do my very best to clean my teeth before my dental appointments, my dentist always seems to notice something – usually something that I am trying to hide.  At every visit, it never fails, he’ll ask about my coffee consumption. Ugh!  I sit there hoping that I’ve done good enough job cleaning so he doesn’t notice, but he does, because that’s his job.  Do I need to feel ashamed and hide this from my dentist?  No. Seems a little silly doesn’t it? 

It is the same way with God. He sees everything that we would like to hide from him.  He wants us to come to Him, so He can help us. We do not need to attempt to clean ourselves up before having a relationship with Him.  The whole purpose of Christ’s visit to Earth was to do the work that we couldn’t do ourselves.  Once we accept that – God does the rest! 

I know that God can be intimidating.  After all, He is holy.  Do you know what else?  He is love.  He loves us so much and invites us to simply come.  Come to Him as you are.  Come with all of your stains. Come with all of your imperfections, your mistakes, your shortcomings and your baggage.  He wants to do an amazing work in us if we’ll let Him.  He just wants YOU! 

For those who feel unworthy, ashamed or just too messed up to come to God – come anyway!  Stop trying to fix yourselves on your own, and give it all over to the One who cares for you and longs to make you a new creation. Come to God and be healed. Be changed. Be clean.  Be free! The first step is to accept God’s Son, Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Allow Him into your heart and spirit.  I promise that He will do such an awesome work in you – something beyond what you can imagine. 

Maybe you already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but have not allowed Him to reign in a certain area of your life. Maybe there is something in your life that you have been trying to manage, fix or clean up on your own. Stop!  Stop trying to fix [by yourself] what can only be fixed by the Expert. Give it over to the One who can truly help you. Run to His throne of grace and allow Him to do what only He can!  

So please remember that while some things in life may require some prepping, pre-cleaning or pre-treating, it is not so with God.  We can come just as we are – no matter how dirty.  

I hope that you find this little word encouraging today.  

Isaiah 1:18 ~ “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Love,

Melissa

What’s in Your Closet?

Last week I started doing a little Spring cleaning.  Okay, okay so its Summer time and I’m a little late.  Better late than never, right?  I’ve been meaning to get around to cleaning out several closets in our home for some time now, but for one reason or another, I put it off.  With the new school year approaching, I decided to tackle it now.  I believe that organization helps everyone (especially myself) feel better prepared and able to focus on life’s priorities.

I started going through my clothes closet first.  I hesitantly picked through a few items trying to decide what I could get rid of.  It’s amazing how attached we become to things, and specifically things that we don’t even use or wear anymore.   I picked up each item and thought to myself I may need this one day and then put it right back in my closet.  After a while I realized that I was getting nowhere, so I came up with a new method – if I haven’t worn it in the past year…GET RID OF IT!  My give-away pile of clothes grew quickly.   At one point while going through my closet I realized I had ten pair of black pants.  Most of which I don’t even wear anymore.  Why on Earth did I still have these?   I ended up getting rid of half of them.  I dug a little further in my closet and found all types of clothes that either didn’t fit me or weren’t really my style anymore.  It’s amazing the things we hold on to.  There was one particular pair of pants that I had a hard time parting with.  I’m really not sure why, other than they were my “comfortable pants.”  I didn’t really like them, but often wore them when I didn’t know what else to wear.  I finally got up the courage to part with them.  By the end of the evening I had a huge garbage bag full of clothes to give away.  It was strange, but after cleaning out my closets, I actually felt like I had more clothes than before.  I was able to put new outfits together with clothes that I already had.  I didn’t recognize it before, because of the clutter.  It felt so good to purge and do away with my old stuff!

During the process of cleaning out my closets I thought about how many of us have spiritual closets full of stuff that we don’t use anymore. I wondered how many born-again believers have spiritual closets full of things that don’t fit them, yet they still hold on to them.  I think it’s time for us to do a little spiritual closet cleaning, what about you?

Before we came to know Jesus Christ most of us had closets full of all kinds of stuff…wrong thoughts, wrong attitudes, wrong behaviors, wrong language, wrong desires and so on.  Maybe these things suit us before we were born-again, but now we don’t have room for them.  Prior to giving our lives to Jesus Christ, we clothed ourselves with things like lust, pride, drunkenness, strife, envy, gossip and greed.  However, those things don’t work for us anymore.  Our old wardrobes consisted of all types of items that just aren’t conducive to our new lives.

We (believers) have been clothed with salvation and the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  So many times though, I see Christians wearing their old clothes; things that are contrary.  Not only does it not look right, but it doesn’t work!

Mark 2:22 ~ No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.

Have you taken the time to clean the old things out of your closet or have you just pushed them to the back?  Even if we don’t wear these things anymore, holding on to them can still cause problems for us.

In the same way that holding on to my old clothes caused my closet to be a bit cluttered, holding on to things in our spiritual closets can cause our lives to be cluttered.  It can cause confusion, double-mindedness, complacency and hinder our spiritual growth.  Remember the black pants that I had a hard time letting go of?  There was nothing special about these pants.  They didn’t even look that good on me, but I wanted to hold on to them just in case.  I wanted to have the option to turn to them in case nothing else fit me.  They were my comfort pants and my safety net.  What does that sound like?  FEAR maybe?  When we hold on to things because we are afraid to let go for one reason or another, we are not operating in faith.  Faith told me to get rid of those pants, because I don’t need them and God will provide ALL of my needs.  Fear on the other hand told me to hang on to the pants, because I may never get another pair like them.  I may need them one day.

Holding on to things in our spiritual closets can also tempt us to want to wear those things again.  Even though some items in my closet only sat and collected dust, they caught my attention every time I walked by.  At times, I would even think about the time when these things fit me.  I would dream about being able to fit into them again.  I would pick up the size 6 jeans and hold them up to my body, trying to see how many inches I need to lose around my waist in order for them to fit again.  The reality is I probably will never fit into a size 6 again and if I am able to, do I really want to wear the old ones?  Do I trust God to provide something new and better by keeping the old stuff?  The answer is NO.

Okay so maybe the closet analogy is a bit of a stretch, but do you get what I am saying?  It’s time to get rid of certain things in our lives once and for all.  Its time to deal with and remove the things that are keeping us from being ALL that God created us to be.  No more pushing things to the back of the closet just in case.  No more holding on to things from our past.  The Bible says that once we are born-again we become a NEW CREATION.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

These are God’s words, not mine.  He assures us that we are a new person, a new creation and have a new life once we accept Christ Jesus.  The old person, along with his or her habits, is GONE!   There is no need for us to hold on to the old, and there is no benefit to us by doing so.

You know, two days after cleaning my closet out I was blessed with some new (very cute) clothes.  I didn’t ask for them and I didn’t have to pay for them.  They were just simply given to me.  God reminded me right then that when we give, we receive.  When we empty ourselves of the old, God fills us back up with something new; something greater.  He can’t bless us with something new if we are holding on to the old stuff though.

I would like to encourage you to take inventory of your spiritual closets today.  Are there things in there that don’t fit you anymore?  If so, what is keeping you from getting rid of them?

If you are like me, the Holy Spirit constantly brings things to your attention that you need to deal with.  He reminds you of things that need to be purged out of your life.  Are you listening to Him?  Or do you shove that thought to the back of your head and say “Later Lord?”  I think it’s time that we all do a little spiritual Spring cleaning!  Let’s get rid of the junk that doesn’t belong.  Let’s do away with the old attitudes and behaviors that no longer fit the new us!

Psalm 51:10 ~ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Isaiah 43:25 ~ “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

Romans 12:2 ~ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Ephesians 4:31 ~ Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.