What’s Burned In?

Are you familiar with the burn-in effect from leaving one image on certain TVs and monitors too long?  That image is visible no matter what else might be showing.  Kind of like a filter, it distorts what you want to see.

I heard of someone who inadvertently burned the logo of their satellite company into their brand new plasma TV.  It wasn’t just in one spot, however, because the logo moved from place to place all over the screen, staying long enough at each place to leave its mark.  No matter what they try to watch from here on, they see it through the company image.

Let’s think about this from a different perspective.  The same effect happens in us as a result of our personal focus, though the results can be for good as well as bad.

If I give my attention to what the world offers – what satisfies my flesh – the image being burned in is the image of the world.  Though I am a Christian, people will see the world when they look at me, no matter what I hope to show them.  There will be no reflection of Christ when I go through struggles – only more of what they already know.

On the other hand, if I attend to the things of God – His Word, His love, Who He is – His image is burned in, and His reflection will be visible to others even when hard times come my way.  His Word will be what works in me in those times, so that people will be able to comprehend the reality of Jesus Christ.  For the world to believe there is hope for something more in their life, they have to see the hope of Christ alive and at work in me . . . and in you.

Romans 12:2 AMP  Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude]

Even if the reflection you currently show the world is a mirror image of itself, this does not have to be permanent.  Jesus Christ is still ready to change you into His image when you believe and apply His Word.  As you choose to focus on the Lord and His Word rather than what the world offers, you will be transformed.  It’s His promise.  The image of the world that has been burned in, and through which people have known you in the past, will be transformed into the image of Christ.

What’s that I see burning in you?

What I Learned from a Garbage Bin

Romans 15:2, 3 2 Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  3 For even Christ did not please himself . . .

Romans 15:17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.

In our community, everyone has the same large, green garbage bins – the kind the trucks can pick up and dump without a human leaving the truck.  In addition, we have recycling bins that are emptied the same day as the garbage.  Most people dutifully remove both their bins from the street within a day of their emptying.  There are a few, however, who aren’t so prompt in the pick-up, and, frankly, it irritates me.

There was one neighbor who began leaving his bins streetside throughout the week, though it hadn’t always been this way.  At first, I was irritated week after week, seeing the green “decoration” every time I passed that way.  Then I remembered how much of a struggle this man has now with his own physical limitations and his wife in a wheelchair; so, I began to lug those bins down the driveway to their keeping places when I walked the dog.  (Please, don’t start thinking how thoughtful I am, for I’ll quickly prove you wrong. :))

I honestly don’t think I would have done anything about it if it didn’t bother me.  My motivation was not, as Christ’s, completely for the benefit of my neighbor.  While it wasn’t to make me feel good about myself for helping someone who could use the help, it was for personal benefit in a different way – to make me feel better by not having to look at the big green garbage cans.

Add to my wrong motive the fact that there is a grown granddaughter living in this home who is fully capable of helping with things such as the garbage, and any good attitude was gone.  I didn’t grouse (in my mind) while doing this “act of kindness” because of the elderly couple.  My grousing was about the granddaughter who should take on the responsibility, or on other nearby neighbors who could pitch in.  While entertaining all these thoughts, I did try to tell myself it must only bother me, so just find personal satisfaction in doing it.  I praise God that He wasn’t willing to leave me in this messy state!

In my regular Bible reading, the verses of Romans 15 began to minister to me about my garbage can attitude.  I know this is not what Paul had in mind with these verses, but the Lord used them that way for me.  It was time to get rid of the stinking attitude for good, not to stop being a helpful neighbor.  While I understood immediately, I wondered how to break out of this attitude until I came to the phrase, “in my service to God.”  There it was, plain and simple.  The reason for doing whatever I do is to serve my Lord and glorify Him.  It’s not up to me to determine other people’s motivations, or lack thereof.  It’s only my place to do what He gives me to do, serving Him while I serve others – regardless of who else might be able to do it.

There is a possibility that the Lord has crafted me in such a way as to be bothered by things like garbage cans still by the street long after pickup, knowing it will attract my attention to help a neighbor, ultimately serving and glorifying Him in the process.  I needed these verses to expose the ugly motives (for I had definitely seen them), but to root them out and return my focus to Him.  Oh, the glorious transforming power of His Word!  I’ll bet the next time I do whatever the Lord shows me, I will find much greater joy because it will be another opportunity to serve Him – all because of His Word.

Love Never Fails

As I listened to a human message about agape love, that unconditional and perfect love of God, the Lord added His message to my heart.  The preacher encouraged us to love with agape love those people who are not yet saved, are not in right relationship with the Lord, or are even out of relationship with us.  If we live this love, we were promised, they will have to come around sometime, even if it’s in the distant future, because love never fails1.

I moved from there with Holy Spirit while He took me down a different path from the one on which I had just traveled.  Love never fails is the Word of God, so it is Truth2.  Not only is the Greek word for love in this reference agape, but in another reference, God is love3, the Greek word used is also agape.  God, Himself, is the agape love that never fails.  He doesn’t just have it, and He doesn’t just love with it.  He is this very love!

I then thought of many people who have never turned their lives around, as far as we know, nor have they been restored to family, despite friends and family members praying faithfully and loving them as best they could.  Did love fail?  Agape love never fails.  How, then, do we reconcile our experiences that appear contrary to the Truth of the Bible?

Since God is this agape love, He loves every person perfectly, regardless of their deeds or words.  He never messes up by saying or doing the wrong thing that moves them farther away, nor is He impatient with slow, or seemingly non-existent, progress.  Yet, even in His perfect love, people all over the world are not restored to family and friends, or end up in hell by refusing to repent and receive His love.  Has agape failed?  Has God failed?  Absolutely not!  Love will never fail!  What have failed are our man-made, man-determined, expectations.  If God loving perfectly (and patiently) doesn’t always bring about His desired change in others, our imperfect (and often impatient) efforts at living agape love for others certainly won’t.  How can we make sense of it all?

We need to understand the expectations we have had in these socalled failed cases.  We expected if we showed God’s love, we would get our will for someone else because we know it’s God’s will, too.  What we have failed to grasp is that, in His unlimited wisdom, plan, and perfect agape love, God created each of us with a free will, and He does not override those wills – ever –  even when those wills end up leading to eternal death in hell, forever separated from Him and His love.  Even in that outcome, love hasn’t failed.  Agape made the way for that person (and every other) to be reconciled to God’s love for all eternity, through Jesus Christ.  With His blood, Jesus paid the price so we could know this amazing love, even for those who would never accept it.  No, that love never fails.  It never has and it never will.

Where does this leave us, with regards to the wandering ones?  Since God so loves them, even as He so loves us, we continue allowing His love to grow in us and show through us so that all around us are exposed to His wonderful, perfect love.  The difference now is that we have removed our limiting human expectations about the outcome, for love never fails!

1 1 Corinthians 13:8

2 John 17:17

3 1 John 4:8 & 16