Tag Archives: identity

The Red Dot

“I wonder what that means?”

As we walked around the exhibition I noticed that a few of the paintings were marked with a bright red sticky dot.  Small, but bright. Obvious.

I found out later that the dot marked out a painting that had been picked out by a buyer and paid for.  Ownership had been transferred but, so that it could remain hanging as part of the exhibition,  collection has been deferred to the last day of the show.

To show which paintings have been sold (and are no longer available to buy) a little red sticky dot is placed on the wall next to it.

This is the picture that popped into my head a few days ago when I was skimming through Ephesians chapter 4 and read this:

‘… the Holy Spirit, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.’ (Ephesians 4:30b, NIV)

 

Today’s postcard of hope is that the Holy Spirit in our lives is like the red dot at an art exhibition.  When we believe and trust in Jesus we are instantly marked out for redemption.  His presence shows that we are ‘already paid for’.  Ownership has been transferred, only awaiting collection on the final day.

It’s a picture brimming over with grace.  There is absolutely nothing I can do (or not do) to affect my status.  I have been bought; the required price has been paid: I belong to God.

And I wonder to myself: If I really, really believed this, if I knew it in the deep places of my heart, how would I live differently?

Perhaps, I could rest in that truth: It is done. I am sealed for the day of redemption

Perhaps, I could stop worrying what God thinks about my multiple mess-ups.  He knew… he bought me.

Perhaps, I could stop striving, working hard to earn his favour. I belong to him… I can’t change the ending.

And perhaps, I could use that confidence and freedom to serve him from my heart instead of my head. I belong to God… he will be coming back to collect me.

 

I’ve read it in scripture and I know in my head that this is true: The Holy Spirit in me is a mark showing who I belong to.  And I can always try harder, strive to live differently.

But while it may be my style to try to modify my behaviour and hope that somehow that will sort out what’s in my heart, God’s way is to transform my heart, so that what flows out of it is good.  This postcard’s truth is so obvious, so important, that it sometimes gets stuck somewhere on the journey between our heads and our hearts.  We know it to be true but struggle to live out of it.  It’s probably one to ask for help with…

 

Father, thank you that you chose me,

that you valued me,

paid the price and bought me,

that I belong to you.

Spirit of wisdom and revelation, 

unfold this truth in the deep places of my heart.

 

 

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Wallpaper

Sometimes you just become so used to things that you can’t see them anymore.

After we took down the old cooker hood in our first home we were left with an ugly taped-up wire sticking out of the kitchen wall. In the beginning it really annoyed me, but after a few months I stopped noticing it and after two years we were discussing jobs that needed doing and I genuinely thought we had already had it fixed!

Even gruesomely patterned wallpaper like this one can eventually become so familiar that you no longer notice it (or no longer find it offensive!).

Whether or not we notice it, most of us have wallpaper inside our heads:  The background messages of the things that were spoken over us, or that we said to ourselves, when we were kids and trying to make sense of the world.  Messages like ‘I’m not important’ or ‘it’s not safe’, ‘I’m lazy’ or ‘I’m not good enough’.

Many of us have come to faith in Jesus and have valiantly tried to paste the truth he has to say about us over the top of the words of the past, covering up the old messages with the new ones that know in our heads are true.

I don’t know about you, but my trouble is that the wallpaper of my past is definitely of a 1970’s variety – Bright bold patterns and made of shiny vinyl.  It’s a big job to get any new wallpaper to stick over the top of a decorama vinyl like this one… and even if you do get it to stick, chances are that a pattern this bright and bold will show through whatever you paste on top!

When this happens to you, it’s not a sign that you’re not a good enough Christian; that you’re not ‘saved’ enough; or that you’re not believing hard enough… It just means you need to do some redecorating..

If this was a wikihow, there would be pictures… but:

Stage One: Notice what’s there

Ask God to show you what it is your believing about yourself, or Him that is not true.  Even if you’re so used to it that you don’t really see it anymore, ask him to show you the wallpaper.

Stage Two: Look at it

Admit that what’s there is not the truth about you.  Even if you’ve got so used to it that it feels kind of comfortable and familiar, if it’s not what God says it has to go…

Stage Three: Get rid of it

Now you’ve seen the ugly truth… Don’t just try to cover it up again! Start stripping it off. Confess to God that you believe a lie about yourself, or Him.  Repent of it.  Choose not to behave as if it’s true.. Ask him to reveal the truth under the layers…  Just as it takes steam to melt the glue that sticks the paper in place, so it takes some prayer (yours and maybe someone elses) to loosen the grip of old lies in your life… but it can be done.

Well doesn’t that make it sound easy.

Honestly?… Anyone who has stripped off Vinyl wallpaper will tell you it’s really hard work, but not impossible.  Be kind to yourself… do a bit at a time!

And finally- Whenever we take down old wallpaper in our house in England, I’m always afraid that the plaster on the walls is going to come away with it, like actually it’s only this sheet of wallpaper that’s holding the wall together, and taking it down is probably a really bad idea.

If you’re afraid of taking down your wallpaper, because of what you might find underneath – know this: The moment you trusted in Christ, and handed over the reins of your life to him, the plaster, the part at the core of who you are, underneath all the messages you’ve papered on, was made completely new.

Perfect.

Spotless.

Without bump or blemish.

New.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

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For your Journal:

Ask God if there’s a wall that needs a bit of attention in your heart.  Ask him to show you if there’s a lie you are believing about yourself or about him.

It might not just ‘fall into your head’, but at some point this week it might be that the Holy Spirit draws your attention to something you think or feel, or an incident that hurts you or angers you more than you think it should.  If you have one of these ‘aha’ moments, choose to look at the wallpaper and see it for what it is.  Then start to take it down.

Nametapes

This is how I remember it… like a page in the much-loved story book of the children’s early lives… a moment that God used to touch my heart.

It’s more than ten years since my firstborn started school, but I still remember the day when I was battling through the pile of freshly-bought school uniform, dutifully sewing in the little white woven name tapes, and my four year old came to ask me what I was doing.

Now, I’ve read that the average four year old asks around 200 questions a day, and mine was maybe even a little above average in this department, so I cast around for an answer that would pre-empt any further questions and maybe even send him back to his lego:

“I’m sewing in little tapes with your name on them, to show everyone that these clothes belong to you; and then no-one can take them away from you and they can’t get lost.”

It must have been a good answer, because he just looked very thoughtfully at me and then disappeared upstairs to his room again.

A minute later though, he reappeared, dragging his much beloved (and slightly gruesome) Blue-Blanky. This worn and grubby cot blanket had been at his side constantly for the past three years (apart from one heart-rending moment in a motorway service station and some late-night under-the-cover-of-darkness trips through the washing machine…) and was a great source of comfort to him, and occasional stress to me!

“Sew my name on Blue-Blanky Mummy,” he said earnestly, “then everyone will know it’s mine, and no-one can say it’s not and it can never ever be lost, or taken away”

So I did.

About a week later I was reading Ephesians when this verse caught a hold of my heart:

“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of his glory” Ephesians 1: 13-14 NIV

I suddenly realised that the Father has done the equivalent of sewing a woven nametape onto my very heart and soul – he has marked me with a seal.

Isn’t that marvellous?… isn’t it wonderful?  The Holy Spirit is the irrevokable royal seal on your life that declares to the earth and to the heavens for ever and ever:  “This soul is MINE”.

When I look at this picture, I hear God whispering:

“Everyone will know you are mine, no-one can say you are not, and you can never ever be lost, or taken away”

I wonder if you do too?

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