I’m a Pom Pom (Romans 12)

(for those who don’t know… these are pom poms. The solid orange one is what it looks like before it’s trimmed. The others have been trimmed.)

Prologue:

Romans 5:8 But God shows his love for us that while we still sinners, Christ died for us.

When I first met Jesus, I was like that solid orange pom pom. My heart and my life were a mess and falling apart. But just like the pom pom maker tied a string around the center of each pom pom to keep the strands of yarn together, Jesus tied Himself around the center of my heart, keeping me together.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

A pom pom is made to serve a purpose.

So was I.

And now Romans…

Verse 1:  I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

A pom pom is completely subject to its maker. It has no will of its own.

However, God created me with free will. Therefore He waits for me to present myself to Him as a living sacrifice. That means I give up my rights, my wants, my opinions, my stuff – and place myself completely in His hand.

Verse 2: Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

That messed up orange pom pom looks more like the skein of yarn it came from than a finished pom pom. In order to get it to a more pleasing and usable shape, much yarn has to be trimmed of.

I was no different. I looked, thought, and acted just like the world in which I came out of.  Those worldly ways needed to be trimmed in order to make me into a more pleasing and usable person for God.

Verse 3: For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Once trimmed, the pom pom looks so incredibly better that it might be tempted to believe it has become the most beautiful of all pom poms. But that might just cause the others to raise their eyebrows at it. If you look closely in the picture, the pom poms each have some defects. Strands sticking out here or there, or misshapen in some places, none of them are perfect.

I, too, am soooo much better than I used to be, and if I’m not careful, I could start thinking I’m better than I really am, especially when I compare myself to people who haven’t been trimmed as much. I know I still have parts that need to be trimmed and rounded. Thinking soberly, or rationally, about myself, I know I am no better or worse than any other person.

Verse 4: For as in one body we have many members and the members do not all have the same function,

Some pom poms are made to be sewn on clothes, bags, or key chains. Others are made to be tossed around by a two-year old…

Likewise, I, being part of a body of many members, have a different function than the others. It might be similar to someone else’s but most like will not be identical.

Verse 5: so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Although there are many different pom poms, they are all part of the group their maker made.

I, along with all the other Christians, form one body, and as a member, I have a responsibility to the other members.

Verse 6: Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;

None of the pom poms were given exactly the same strands. Some have the same colors, but in different arrangements; some were given more unique colors; and one was given only one color. But all are as they were designed to be.

My spiritual gifts differ from gifts given to others in the body. And how I use those gifts also differ. One such gift given to me, a prophetic gift, is much different than what is generally thought of when thinking about a prophet. I don’t prophecy over others, nor do I predict the future. But I can see what God is doing, and hear what He is saying, when He reveals it to me. Instead of fretting that I don’t do what the other prophets are doing, I am learning to use my gift according to God’s grace and my faith. I am learning to accept and enjoy my uniqueness and the way I was designed.

Verse 7: if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;

I am also a teacher – over thirty years in the public school system, as well as many small group spiritual teachings over the years. But I found that my teaching style also often differed from my peers. Which was a good thing, because not every student learned the same way. (My dream/goal is to combine my gifts of prophecy and teaching and create prophetic teachings that God can use to impact His people.)

Verse 8: the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

I LOVE exhorters! However, I am not one. My husband is and sometimes it’s hard not to envy his gift. I know people with gifts of generosity, leadership, and mercy – none of which I have – and all for which I’m grateful for. They are all extremely important in the Kingdom.

Verse 9: Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Just as the pom poms are trimmed of parts that interfere with their purpose, so I am trimmed of what interferes with my relationship with God and His purpose for me. But sometimes I have to do the trimming myself. God teaches me what is good and what is evil. It’s my responsibility to trim away all evil as He reveals it, and keep the good.

Verse 10: Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Imagine the pom poms chatting. Which set – A or B – do you think they would be saying to each other?

  1.  Aw, you are so pretty! I love your colors! You look so soft! Here, let me make room for you. You’re so awesome! You are looking better every day! I love how the yellow mixes with your white.
  • Hey, you look stupid with that little piece sticking out. Let me get fix it for you. Hmmm… feeling a little out of shape this morning? That’s too bad. Come back when you have better control over yourself. Pssst… did you see the white one today? Can’t believe it thinks it looks as good as us colorful ones.

God has recently revealed to me that I need to be more like those pom poms in set A. Instead of focusing on someone’s imperfections or differences, I need to see what He sees – a perfect pom pom in the making. This is way harder than it sounds, but also so much more important than I realize sometimes.

Verse 11: Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Pom poms are all they are made to be. A bunch of yarn tied together and shaped into a ball. Pom poms just sit, until a force acts on them.

I am so much more than a bunch of cells shaped into a human, waiting for something to move me. With God’s Spirit indwelling me, my spirit is alive and in love with my Maker, and as long as I stay focused on Him, He motivates and enables me to remain fervent in serving Him.

Verse 12: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

A pom pom can’t rejoice, be patient, or pray. But I can. I can rejoice in the hope of continual improvements. I can patiently endure the trimming process, like a pom pom submitting to the hands of its maker. And I can pray throughout every day – for myself as well as for others as they go through their own trimming experiences.

Verse 13: Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

I want to do this. I think about doing this. But I end up not doing anything sometimes. I’m glad so many people are so much better at this than I am, but that’s no excuse for me not to. I have my place in the body, and need to help support the rest of the body whenever and however I can.

Epilogue:

Philippians 1:6  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

One day, I will be a perfect pom pom – softly round and perfectly trimmed. But most likely not before I get to heaven. In the meantime, I’m content to be in the hand of my Maker, trimming away the parts I can, and allowing Him to trim the rest.

How about you?

Dear Determined One (from Someone Who Loves You series)

Dear Determined One,

I see you there, no longer content with the limited view allowed by lying in your bed. I see you there, working so hard to sit up so that you can see a much larger part of your world.  You have learned that there is more in life than what you had once thought and you want to see it all. So you work on it day after day, never giving up even though you see little progress. What you don’t realize is that the progress happens inside first, hidden from everyone, even from yourself.  As you exercise, little by little, your inner self is strengthened and built up until one day you make it to that sitting position that you were so determined to achieve. And I will be there with everyone else celebrating your victory! Don’t give up, sweet girl. When it’s time, it will happen.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

1 Timothy 4:8 Amplified Bible (AMP)

For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.

 

Do you hear God speaking to you in these letters? If so, it’s no coincidence.  As I write to my new granddaughter, I can hear God speaking to me. And my prayer is that you can also hear Him speaking to you for He loves us even more than I love my granddaughter.

 

If New Homes Could Talk

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“Do you hear them?” she asked her friend as they were taking a walk through their new neighborhood.

“Hear what?” he asked, looking around.

“Hear those houses.”

Now he looked at her. “Um… you can hear houses?” He frowned at her, concerned that she had finally lost it. “I know you’re a bit sleep deprived, but…”

She laughed. “No, I’m not going crazy. I don’t actually hear them talking like I hear you. But I do hear a message.”

“What message?”

Instead of answering, she asked him a question. “What if they could talk, what would they be saying to you?”

He looked at them a few minutes, cocked his head, frowned and said, “I give up. I can’t hear anything.”

“OK, then, what do you think of when you look at them?”

He studied them a bit longer. “I think of the potential each one has. And how they all seem to have the same basic construction plan but small changes makes them each unique.”

“You don’t think a finished one is better than an unfinished one? The finished ones are much prettier to look at.”

“No, they’re just in different stages of construction. One house is not better than another just because it’s further along. They are all interesting in whatever stage they’re in. And one day they will all provide strong, well built homes for the people who will move into them.”

“Exactly.” She sighed. “It’s just like us. Like people. We are all in different stages of development. Some look more finished than others. Some are nicer to look at, or listen to. But all of us are being built by the Master and are perfect in whatever stage we’re in. If only we weren’t so quick to judge others by what we see instead of by what God sees.”

“Is that the message you’re hearing?”

“Yes. We – people – are new homes being built. We are all made from a basic plan yet the Master has made each of us unique. We are all as we should be at whatever stage we’re in and we should stand content in the progress our Father is making as He molds and builds us. And most of all, we should allow other people to be at different stages than we are in. We should be delighting in their progress instead of comparing and judging them.”

She turned and looked at her friend. “I have to admit, I’m as guilty as anyone else. But that’s going to change. With God’s help, that’s going to change.”

He smiled at her, took her hand, and together, they continued on their walk.

When Bad Luck Is Not Luck

She prayed, “Lord, even though I’ve been walking with you for years now, I feel so spiritually immature. Can You help me mature a little bit more?”

Not hearing anything, she went to sleep.

The next day, everything went fine at work and she forgot about her prayer.  But after work was a different story.

Stopping at Walmart, she couldn’t find most of the things on her list. It was made even worse because she had her two kids with her and they fought the entire time. Trying to rush, she grabbed what few things she could find and got in line to check out. It turned out the only line not moving was the hers. “Just my luck,” she thought angrily.

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Finally getting home, she started dinner. Preparing muffins, she broke an egg only to have it squirt out all over her shirt. She managed to break the second egg into the muffin mix and put the mix in the oven, then went to change her shirt. When she got back, she found the muffins didn’t rise.  More bad luck, she thought.

Frustrated, she took the kids to Pizza Hut, only to find that Pizza Hut wouldn’t honor the coupon she had. Of course they wouldn’t, she thought. Not with the luck I’m having today.

By the time she got back home and put the kids to bed she was so stressed and tired that all she could do was hide in her room and cry.

But then she remembered that God had said to come to Him when she was weary. And she had read that praising Him in the midst of trials was important. So she tried it. After some time, she began to feel better. Although still tired, the stress had left her. She picked up her Bible to read a little before bed and opened to James 1:2-4.  ...trials produce perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature.

The words struck deep into her heart as she remembered her prayer from the night before. All that bad luck wasn’t luck after all. Amazingly, she had even asked for it.

“Lord,” she prayed with a smile. “Thank You for answering my prayer. I know it’s not over yet, and it’s definitely not the way I would have handled it, but I trust You know best. And thank You for being kind enough to wait until AFTER work to answer it!”

And when she fell asleep, she was still smiling.

Deep Inside a Flower

“There’s something very beautiful deep inside you,” her boyfriend told her.

“No, there isn’t,” she responded.

“Yes, there is. I can see God pouring His love all over you, watering you as if you were a flower. Only you can’t feel it.”

On the surface, she had come to know God’s love and presence, and to a degree could accept that, but deep down was a whole different story. She could feel the darkness that she believed was down there, and was afraid to find out that she was right.

“No,” she shook her head. “There’s nothing good in me.”

“I don’t believe that. I see you as a bud, closed up tightly around great beauty. And I see God slowly and gently opening your petals, one by one.”

Fear rose up in her. What if He really was doing that? What if He gets to the center of her IMG_20180416_204207978being and finds only darkness there? Maybe even evil. And demons.

“What if I’m afraid?”

“It’s OK. God knows that. And He will go only as fast as you are able. He won’t force you.”

“Maybe, but I can’t take the chance.” She really, really didn’t want to find out she had demons.  She had heard of plenty of people who had had demons cast out of them. She shuddered just thinking about it. What would that be like, having a demon cast out? Maybe like having a nasty worm in your stomach pulled out through your mouth. She had seen a video of that once. Or like having leprosy on the inside that would gross out anyone who saw it. She’d rather hide her darkness than subject others to it. Her petals would have to remain closed.

Later, they talked about it some more. She took in his words, hoping he was right, but knowing that he wasn’t.

The next night, they attended a prayer meeting together. She listened in amazement as the speaker for the night spoke about… she could hardly believe it… how God opens His people little by little, to reveal the beauty that is inside them.

No way, she thought. That has to be more than a coincidence. She got excited thinking that maybe… but no. That was true for other people but not for her. She knew there was nothing but darkness inside her. She could feel it.

The next night, she had an unexpected visit from a friend. This friend handed her a vase with a magnolia bud and a red rose in it. She thanked her friend and had a nice visit, but she didn’t think much about the flowers.

Until the next day.

The magnolia bud had opened during the night – and the flower was absolutely beautiful! Somehow she knew beyond a doubt that this flower was from the Lord. She could feel His love and presence and knew that He was doing something deep within her. As she yielded to Him, she began looking forward to finding out what that something was.

It would take years for her petals to fully open. But when they did, she found out she had been wrong all along. Instead of darkness, she found Light. Instead of evil and demons needing to be cast out, she found His great love for her. She realized  her fear had been lying to her all those years.

“There’s something very beautiful deep inside you,” her boyfriend, now husband, had told her those many years ago. Now she finally knew that it was true. There WAS something beautiful deep inside her. And that something was called Jesus.

Voices

Cast of Characters:

Voice One: a young girl, relatively new in the faith

Voice Two: the girl’s inner voice, whether her own or the Holy Spirit

Voice Three: the enemy (we all know who that is), sneaky quiet voice

Background: the young girl has been on a quest to learn about prayer in order to deepen her own prayer life

 

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Voice One: Prayer often seems so empty and unanswered. What am I doing wrong? God, why are You so quiet?

Voice Three:  Where is your Jesus now?

Voice Two: He’s giving you a chance to grow in your faith. But He’s smiling down on you. He knows how this will end, and He is so proud of you.

Voice Three: You should have this by now. You’re not good enough to pray.

Voice One: I’m so sorry, Father. I wish I was better at this. Would You teach me? I’ve tried all week to have a quiet time, but I just don’t know how to.

Voice Three: See? Nothing. He won’t answer you.

Voice Two: That’s just the enemy. Don’t listen to him.

Voice One: Really? Satan is involved in this? Why? I’m nobody.

Voice Three: You’re so right.

Voice Two: You are the daughter of the King. That makes you a target.

Voice Three: Nah. you’re no threat. Not worth Satan’s time. You can’t even pray.

Voice One: So if Satan can’t steal my soul because I belong to the Father, why is he after me?

Voice Three: I’m not.

Voice Two: He wants to keep you so busy worrying about your spiritual growth that you can’t enjoy life. He can’t steal your soul, so he’s trying to steal your joy.

Voice One: Hmmm… that makes sense.

Voice Three: NO! It doesn’t! Who cares whether you are happy or not? That’s just selfish.

Voice Two: If you have no joy, it’s hard to spread God’s love to others.

Voice One: So I should just enjoy who I am.

Voice Two: Right.

Voice Three: That’s just hiding your head in sand. You think if you ignore your problems, they will go away.

Voice One: So if I just focus on who I am, how do I grow?

Voice Two: Your Father is in charge of that.

Voice Three: That’s what they want you to think. It’s the easy way out. Growth takes work and discipline and plans.

Voice One: But don’t I need to work at it, make plans and discipline myself to follow through on them?

Voice Two: That’s just the enemy again. Don’t listen.

Voice One: Then how do I grow?

Voice Three: You won’t.

Voice Two:  Does a baby concern himself with how make himself grow? Or does he relax and allow his parents to be in charge? To lead him to what he needs – school, exercise, food – at the right times?

Voice One: I think I understand. I just have to enjoy being with My Father, and He will lead me at the right time into doing what I need to do to grow.

Voice Three: Mayday! Mayday! I think I’m losing her! All demons respond!

Voice Two: Uh, no. Cancel that request. You will leave her alone for now. Go!

Voice One: Thank You, Father, that You’re in charge and I don’t have to be. I can just relax and enjoy the life You’ve given me. You are amazing, God. There is none like You!