Proceed with caution: Renovation ahead

Have you ever restored anything?

Last summer we hired a friend to refinish our oak dining room table. After more than 15 years of company, kids and humidity, it needed to be stripped and re-coated. It looked so good after that process was done and has been a joy to use ever since. But since it was a "hire-out," I did not really do anything in the restoring process aside from laying down the money.

But back when I was in college, I worked for an industrial painting company and one of the jobs we did throughout my summers working there was repainting bridges. This type of restoration is a long, arduous process taking tons of hard work.

First of all, you start by building up rigging around the bridge so that you have something to work off. Many times the next step is the sandblasting phase, a process of removing the old paint and rust. Finally, it is ready to be painted -- usually three coats, first a primer, then an intermediate and finally the finish.

In order to restore a bridge, it takes coordination (an organized process), cooperation (a crew working together) and a ton of effort. Restoration is possible, but it doesn't just happen.

It is pretty cool to see a dining room table or bridge brought back and made usable, but what about another sort of "restoration job," a life changed for the better? To me there is nothing more amazing and inspiring than when an individual's life shines because of transformation.

Perhaps you are at a point in your life right now where you can look in the rear view mirror and see where you were. Then you compare it to what life is like now and it is so encouraging. But maybe you are saying, I wish I could overcome a certain issue that keeps me down -- it might be porn, an obsession with alcohol or uncontrollable anger. Whatever it is, there is some moral flaw that is holding you back. It may seem that being changed or transformed is completely out of reach.

I want to convey to you that life change and transformation are not out of reach -- it is possible. God wants to take you from where you are and bring you to a new, awe-inspiring place, and he has made that possible through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Forgiveness is based on grace and mercy and is free, but transformation takes coordination, as God has an organized process for life change. It will also take cooperation, as you will need to "join God" in what he is doing.

You will not accomplish it working separately. And it is going to take some personal investment that will not be easy. It will take great effort, but it will be worth it!

The process for life change is given in part in Colossians 3:1-4, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Embarking on restoring a life means embracing a new way of thinking.

The first step of the life transformation process is really like the first phase of a bridge renovation, and that is getting the platform attached to the bridge so the real work can begin. Here is the new "platform" you and I need to work off: A changed perspective or a new mind-set.

First of all, "seek the things above." In other words, attempt to find an understanding of what is important to the God of all creation. Then "set your mind" on those understandings instead of earthly things. In Matthew 6:33, in Jesus' own words, he said, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness."

Once you discover God's desires, set your mind to them by grabbing on and not letting go. Micah 6:8 gives this example, "But to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God." The process of change starts with the right mind-set.

The second step of the renovation is all about cooperating with God and applying real work. Colossians 3:5 says, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature." In other words, kill, pull the plug on, or make a corpse of those activities not in alignment with your leader, Jesus Christ. In this passage, four areas are mentioned to "put to death" -- sexual immorality, financial exploitation, anger and inappropriate communication. Just like any renovation project, it is a process that is ongoing and continually needs to be brought to the forefront.

Imagine what would happen if you decided to cooperate with the LORD in his restoration process for your life. Yes, it would take effort, and you would be made more and more aware of your breakdowns, but this refurbishing work would be undeniable and praiseworthy by all!  

Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, which meets 10 a.m. Sundays in the cafeteria building of North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and 10 a.m. Sundays at Boyne City elementary. For more information, visit www.genesiswired.com. Comments and insights are welcomed on Twitter @NormByers.
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