Who am I? (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 30, 2014)

I wear many hats, and I’m known by different names & titles to various people. I go by my first name with most colleagues and friends. My students call me by my last initials. A friend I’ve known for nearly 30 years calls me “Bestie.” My brother used to call me his big-little sister (big sister because I’m older, and little sister because he was 6’5”). My favorite custodian at work calls me “sweet baby.” To my kids, I’m just Mom. To their friends, I’m so-and-so’s Mom.

Hopefully, if you were to ask anyone from those circles, “Who would you say that she is?” then they would have similar things to say about my character. The “me” you see on Sunday morning should be the same person you encounter at the office breakroom, grocery store, Facebook, stop light, or anywhere else around town. (If that isn’t the case, then I need to be held accountable.)

The point is that if we are believers in Jesus, then we represent him 24/7. No matter what our name or position may be, we bear the title “Christian” wherever we go.

In Luke 9:18 and following, Jesus asked his disciples what others were saying about him. He referenced the crowds that had been following them around to hear Jesus speak – who did they say that he was? The disciples shared some of what the public was saying, and then Jesus turned the question to them and asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (v. 20).

Peter knew the answer. He knew that Jesus was more than just a public speaker, healer, or even a prophet. Jesus was the real deal – the one the Israelites had been praying about for generations. Philippians 2:9-11 pulls no punches about Jesus’ place in the hierarchy of the universe. He is the Messiah, as Peter answered – the one who loved us so unconditionally that he conquered death for us.

The question I want to ask you today is not just who do you think Jesus is, but who is he to you? Does he mean enough that you aren’t embarrassed to bear his name? Does he mean enough that you are willing to change a few things about your old way of life so that your new life will reflect him better? Those are tough questions, but they are ones that we each need to answer for ourselves, daily.

Becoming Transformed (Prayer Devotional for the week of February 9, 2014)

Art appreciation has never been my strong suit, but one of my favorite pieces is a mixed media sculpture called “Born Again” by artist Dean Kermit Allison. The design features a man looking skyward with his back slightly arched and his hands clasped in front of him, as if he’s exerting himself to stay upright. From the waist down to the ground, he is covered in bronze that is peeling off in large patches. His exposed upper body looks like crystal, which provides a stark contrast in light and texture. I have only ever seen a photo of the sculpture, but it still moves me.

The bronze is harsh, rough, and jagged, like sin that has encased us and held us captive. And yet, the crystal-clear beauty of a transformed life is bursting out of the ugliness. Wow. Think for a moment … really let it sink in … about that imagery of what Jesus has done for us.

When we participate in the symbolism of baptism, it is a representation of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection; as though our sin is being washed away like water washes your body. We can scrub ourselves raw in the shower and yet never cleanse what lies beneath the skin. God, on the other hand, sees through your tough exterior; he knows what hides beneath.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIRV) says, “Anyone who believes in Christ is a new creation. The old is gone! The new has come!” Certainly, through his death and resurrection, Jesus has secured salvation for those who believe in him, but that’s not the only thing. Our salvation doesn’t begin the moment we die. It happens right now!

Transformation is a process, but God sees your potential. In 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, we are reminded that there is newfound freedom in Christ, and we become more like him as we allow God to change us. Peeling off layer after layer of sin is not usually an easy or painless process, but like the statue I described above, the end result is glorious.