Chapter Two

D o you remember when you got your first ‘place’? Whether it was your own bedroom, an apartment or your first home, how excited were you to make it really yours?

 

You probably could not wait to paint the walls your favorite color, decorate the interior with your favorite pic- tures and posters, and choose just the right curtains to complement everything. If you had a yard and you like the outdoors, you probably planned what flowers you wanted to plant and where you would put some trees. Maybe you wanted to put in a vegetable garden, put up a yard flag, set up a bird feeder, or put in a twirly-jig!
 

I’ll never forget when I finally had a bedroom all to myself. I wanted it all done in purple, my favorite color. I had purple walls, a purple flowered bedspread with match- ing pillows and shams, and anything else I found purple.
 

Before we moved into our little furnished apartment, I remember the hours my fiancé (now my husband) put in fixing up our first apartment. He didn’t like the color of the walls in the tiny bathroom, so he ‘papered’ the walls and the ceiling with contact paper. We hadn’t been living there very long when all of a sudden we heard this scrunching noise coming from the middle of our apartment. . . . Then we heard a “thrump!” To our horror, all the contact paper had lost its hold and collapsed on the floor in the middle of the bathroom!
 

When we finally have our own place, we can’t wait to put our mark of ownership on it. We want it to reflect who we are. Jesus is just the same! When we allow Him to move into our hearts and to take control of our hearts and bodies as we are filled with His Holy Spirit, He wants to do some redecorating! He wants to change us into His image.
 

Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; and be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new nature (the re- generate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.
(Ephesians 4:22-24, Amp Classic)

 

Jesus wants to make each of us a vessel that He is proud of, one He enjoys living in and can use for His glory. When Jesus filled me with His Spirit, He made some changes! The first thing He changed was what flowed out of my mouth. Before I went to that prayer meeting on January 16, 1971, I don’t think a sentence came out of my mouth without a curse word. It drove my grandmother crazy! That all changed the moment I received His Spirit! Multitudes of changes took place almost immedi- ately. Not only did I notice the changes, but others saw the changes in my attitude and my countenance. 24

Unfortunately, everything didn’t change overnight, but to be honest, I don’t think I could have taken it if He made all the changes at one time! Some things took longer than others to change, and even today, the Lord still deals with me about changes that need to be made in my life.

 

When I received the Holy Spirit, I was a very shy, very messy, and very insecure person. But in time, with Jesus’ ‘redecorating,’ I’m not the same person!
 

As the Lord began to deal with my heart, it wasn’t long before some of the things I was wearing didn’t feel comfortable any more. I would put something on, look in the mirror, and end up taking it off, simply because it didn’t feel right. I talked with my new friend with whom we were doing campus ministry, and she told me that as Jesus dealt with my heart, He was literally changing me from the in- side out. He wanted me to feel uncomfortable with the old things because He was making me a new creation in Him. If I showed you a picture of how I looked when I received the Holy Spirit, you might be a little surprised!
 

It wasn’t too long after I got the Holy Spirit when Jesus started dealing with me about the color of my hair. I had begun bleaching my hair as a sophomore in high school because all the advertisements said, “Blondes have more fun!” Six months before we were to get married, I told my fiancé that I was going to change my hair back to its natural color. He really liked me as a blonde and didn’t understand why I wanted my hair to be natural until I shared with him what I was feeling. I felt very strongly that if Jesus came back He wouldn’t take me since I was not the way He made me! I changed my hair to its natural color and have never regretted it or been tempted to recolor my hair!
 

Jesus may not deal with your heart in the same way he dealt with mine, but the key is to ask Him what He would have you do about things you are questioning in your life. If you feel He is convicting you to make some changes in your physical appearance and you refuse to listen to His voice, He will let you do what you want. Jesus is a gentleman. He will ask you, but He will not force you.
 

In my own life there were articles of clothing that He convicted me about. I had a choice to make. Unfortu- nately, initially I didn’t make the right choice. But I have to tell you, it wasn’t long until He very clearly said to me, “Didn’t I tell you not to do that?” I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to repent and make the right choice for my Lord.
 

You are probably wondering why I am sharing all of this with you. It’s because when Jesus takes up residence in your heart, you literally become the temple of the living God, and He won’t live just anywhere!
 

Jesus desires to change each of us when we are filled with His Spirit, but He will never force anyone to change. He will present you with opportunities to become His disciple and to grow spiritually, but the choice is up to you. Jesus will change you to the degree that you will allow Him to change you!
 

Unfortunately, we live in a day and age when people think discipline is a dirty word. Discipline is not a dirty word. Actually, it is the root word of “disciple.” You can’t be a disciple if you aren’t disciplined.
The Lord will correct us, but he will not force us to do His will.

 

My son [or daughter], despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: for whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son [or daughter] in whom he delighteth. Happy is the man [or woman] that findeth wisdom, and the man [or woman] that getteth understanding.
(Proverbs 3:11-13)

 

Jesus disciplines us to teach us how to live godly and righteous lives. He disciplines us because He loves us, just as we discipline our children because we love them.
 

I’ve never forgotten a house I visited one time with a friend. It was the filthiest place I had ever seen! We were not there very long, so even though I was offered a seat, I stood all the time I was there. To be honest, I was afraid to sit on any of the furniture! All I could think of were the bugs that likely infested it. I’m sure that’s how Jesus feels when He first sets up residence in our hearts. He knows He can’t change us overnight, but He’s willing to move in and get started. But we have to be willing to change.
I thank the Lord that He’s gotten a lot of ‘bugs’ out of my life, but I know I still have some changing to do! I don’t know if this was a song or just a saying, but this little quote is so true in my life:

 

I’m not what I wanna be,
I’m not what I’m gonna be, but thank God I’m not what I was!

 

As I continued to grow in the Lord, I realized that I had a lot of changing to do! I also realized that I didn’t know how to make the changes myself, but I read that Paul said, “I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return],developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you” (Philippians 1:6, AmpC).
 

Just as Paul prayed for the new converts in his day, without a doubt, I knew that people were praying for me, and I knew that Jesus had begun a good work in me and that He would perform it until He came back to get me! His Word made me realize that I didn’t have to do it all in my own strength. I realized I just had to stay committed and be willing to change.
 

People are praying for you, too! They are praying that the good work that has begun in you will continue right up to the return of the Lord.
 

Never Stop Growing!
 

When we moved to Indianapolis and my husband became principal of Calvary Christian School, I had two years of what I call a ‘back burner’ experience. I went from being involved with everything in the church to staying home 24/7 with three little ones! The Lord used that time to help me grow in Him. I studied the Bible and took notes as I read it. I think I read every Christian women’s book and magazine I could get my hands on. Three of the books I have written have material I dug out in those two years.
 

Our next stop was Germany, where I continued to grow. I ran across a book that helped me get organized and get my house in order. There I began to do some speaking and wrote my first book. Those two back-burner years had helped me to change and to grow spiritually to the point where He could begin using me to minister to others.
 

I’m sixty-six years old now, and I am still changing and still growing. Jesus still reveals areas in my life that need to be changed into His image! He still reveals things that need repentance and where I need to die to myself. Believe me, I have not arrived spiritually!
 

What I’m trying to say is: Jesus’ love is changing me, and He wants to change you! Some of us get stuck in the pity party of life. I know I grew up in a very dysfunc- tional home, had very poor role models for parents, and had a very negative self-image, but I learned that Jesus thought a whole lot more of me than I did of myself! I found out that He wanted to help me to become the virtuous woman He spoke of in His Word, and to do so, I had to change.
 

Florence Littauer, probably my favorite author, wrote a book several years ago, entitled It Takes So Little to Be above Average, that really ministered to me. She started by saying that most people, when they are in school, don’t want to be average. They don’t want to see all C’s on their report card; they want to be above average. And that’s true, isn’t it?
 

Well, Jesus doesn’t want us to be average either! He wants us to be above average, and He wants to help us reach that place! Since we are Holy Spirit-filled believers, He wants our light to shine before men so that they can see our good works and glorify the Lord!
 

Jesus doesn’t want us to be a part of the status quo: the same-old-same-old! He wants us to be leaders! He wants the world to see that we are not afraid to be different. He wants the world to see that we are not afraid to tell people about Him or to reach out to someone who has a need and pray for him or her, even if it is in public.
 

Second Corinthians 5:20 (AmpC) tells us we are ambassadors for Christ. We represent Jesus on this earth:
 

So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God mak- ing His appeal as it were through us. We [as Jesus’ Love Is Changing Me.

Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favor [now offered you] and be reconciled to God.

 

Our spiritual growth can’t be haphazard. I believe Jesus wants us to set spiritual goals. Paul talked about set- ting goals in Philippians 3:10-14 (AmpC). The Thompson Chain Reference Bible calls it “Paul’s Holy Ambitions.”[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and under- standing the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]. Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have cap- tured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.
 

Paul said he had a “determined purpose to know Jesus and to become more deeply and intimately ac- quainted with Him.” I want to have a determined purpose to know Jesus and to become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him! How about you?
 

What is your holy ambition? What spiritual goals do you have that will help you grow in Christ?
I challenge you, as you continue to read Burn Your Bridges and Dance Within Their Flames, to allow the Lord Jesus Christ to make changes in your life so that you can be effectively used by Him!