Be TRANSFORMED!

 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA
In my last post, I spoke of being transformed by the grace of God. Recently the focus at my church has also been on that very topic (God is on the move!). Certainly, with world events unfolding as they have been, the need for personal transformation is more imperative now than ever. If we’re to have any lasting impact on our world, we all need to be transformed daily into the likeness of Jesus. In fact, for some we may be the only Jesus they see.

In looking back on my own journey, pondering and praying about how it happened, I felt led to share the progression more specifically with you. God inspired me to list out the main areas of growth, strength or change in the form of an acronym, using the word “transformed”. I hope and pray that these thoughts will inspire and help you grow in your own journey of transformation.

Trust Jesus – Although I trust in Him for salvation, it is only the start. True trust means trusting completely that Christ is who He says He is, and that day in and day out, we choose His ways over ours. To do that, every one of the enemy’s lies must be replaced with the truth of God’s Word. For instance, when I’m tempted to focus on my shortcomings or succumb to fears about the future, the Lord reminds me that I am His beloved child and His plans are good for me (Jeremiah 29:11)! For me, one of the most simple but powerful words to pray are: “Lord, I trust You.”

Repent & Pray – Many things can hold us back from being that “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1), and become idols or stumbling blocks to transformation. For me, it is too easy to plop down in front of the TV instead of spending time with Him. Temptations vary, but forgiveness and peace are always available when I daily claim His forgiveness and seek to change. Through Christ we are sanctified (made clean and set apart), but it’s important to “work out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12) by intentionally choosing Him each day. In struggles, we must accept His correction, even if it’s difficult.

Accountability – This is a tough one. Being vulnerable with God is one thing, but letting others into the most deepest, darkest parts of inner life is another. We all need one or two special people in our lives for perspective, encouragement and yes, sometimes conviction to stay on track. “Two are better than one…if one falls down his friend can help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). I’m thankful that during this past year, God has brought the right people to speak into my life, greatly enriching my faith journey.

Never Give Up! – Some days I don’t feel God’s presence as strongly as other days, but thankfully faith is not a feeling, but an action! Despite my fickle emotions, I trust that He will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 3:6), and I can do all things through His strength (Philippians 4:8)! One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” For me, just knowing that the creator of the universe knows and loves me is at once humbling and empowering. That thought alone has sustained me during many trying situations.

Serve Others – The most powerful thing you can do in the midst of your own troubles is to come alongside others through theirs. Sharing some of my story and poems with the women at Simonka Place (shelter for women and children, through Union Gospel Mission) has been an incredible blessing and source of holy joy for me. It gets my mind off of myself and makes my problems seem minuscule in comparison. Plus God is using me to bless people – which is definitely a win/win!

Follow His Word – To follow what the Lord says, we must read it, meditate on it, and memorize it. “I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11). Wisdom and grace come in surrender to God through His Word. It comes alive through His Spirit in me: lifting me up, emboldening me and shedding light on those areas on which I need to work. Growing up in the church and knowing many passages of Scripture is no excuse; there’s always something new He can show me.

Order Priorities – Long ago, I learned another acronym: JOY (Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last), and it is a wonderfully simple creed to live by. Balancing life’s demands – work and service with rest and play – is practically an art form. Even as comparatively simple as my life is, I haven’t quite mastered it. I’m getting there. I do what I can, then rest in His grace as I look to Him each day, knowing He’ll direct my path (Proverbs 3:6).

Remember His Faithfulness – In other words, count your blessings! The Lord actually longs to be gracious to us (Isaiah 30:18), and He’s proven it over and over again throughout my life: that perfectly timed song, sage words of a good friend, and many other blessings! Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Look for God’s grace everywhere, and you will find it. When we recall what He’s done, we can worship and sing praise even in hard times, because He carries us and loves us so perfectly.

Mentor Others – True transformation compels us to share what we’ve learned with others. We all have a story; the lessons and insight gained might be exactly what someone else in a similar circumstance needs to hear. For me, this blog is a form of mentoring. Befriending others or deepening existing friendships can be a great blessing to both parties. Taking a younger person under your wing and sharing your wisdom might steer them away from the mistakes you made. We have all been blessed to be a blessing (2 Corinthians 9:8), so don’t be stingy with His grace!

Encourage Others – The transforming power of God moves me to be that city on a hill (Matthew 5:14), shining His light and love wherever I go. The Lord expects nothing less than our all, but with so many blessings we can’t help but share the reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15), and boldly so, as the Spirit directs!

Destroy Strongholds – Especially as violence erupts and tensions flare worldwide, it’s never been more obvious that we are engaged in a spiritual battle, one that isn’t against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). Changed hearts effect more change in the world – one life at a time! Trusting in our Commander, we, as His soldiers, must fight the good fight – on our knees, in prayer. Only by His power will we demolish strongholds in Jesus’ name (2 Corinthians 10:4).

In Closing…

So that is what the Lord has impressed on me to share. I don’t claim to have all the answers, and this isn’t a definitive list, but my prayer is that some of the points hit home with you. If we ever hope to effect change out there, it begins with transformed lives within. Christ never changes; He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), but His love and grace changes us. By believing and actively trusting in Him through these and other spiritual disciplines, we might just start a revival!
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

© Ladeena Ashley
2016 All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

So The World May Know

61610-d

I wrote a new poem last night! Forget what I said in my first entry about posting only once a week or so…positive posts could pop up at any time. You’ve been warned!

God Sighting

Yesterday evening I attended an evening worship service with another congregation that uses our church facility. The message actually coincided with my last blog post, focusing on our identity in Christ, but taking a step back: before we can claim it and trust Him to lead us, we must believe that He is who He says He is. Many folks wrestle with what to believe, and in fact have erroneous notions of what He is like as a result of negative experiences in life. To top it off, we live in a fallen, imperfect world and may not always be rescued from evil. Yet it doesn’t change who God is. He loves the world and wants everyone to find life and hope in His Son (2 Peter 3:9). For those who do, God uses all things – even those meant for evil – for our good, carrying us through adversity, if we let Him (Romans 8:28).

Don’t Give Up

The one thing that stuck out to me during the service last night? Don’t give up! We all get discouraged at times, taking our eyes off Jesus; and like Peter, we start sinking into the stormy seas of doubt (Matthew 14:30). We forget the calling, forget that when we become followers of Jesus, the power that raised Christ from the dead resides in us…even in me!

Thankful Awe

On my way home from the service in the waning evening light, I reveled at the lengths the God of the Universe has gone to come alongside me: strengthening, reassuring and inspiring me – especially during very difficult times this past year – because I trust Him. Filled with thankful awe, I wrote this poem last night:

“Keep Sharing” (or “So The World May Know”)

I’ve come so far, now as I look back,
God’s still in control – I’m right on track.
From the shadows of doubt into sweet light –
Identity reclaimed, faith glowing bright.
In rare moments, like Peter, I start to sink;
Refocusing on Christ transforms how I think:
Renewed heart and mind, in awe of His glory.
With joy, I’ll continue telling my story,
My life’s hymn of hope and perfect peace from above
to a world that is hurting and in need of God’s love.
Yes, progress has been made, but much more to go;
By grace, I’ll keep sharing, so the world may know
the blessings I’ve found are there for them too –
I pray that all see Jesus in everything I do.

© Ladeena Ashley
8-6-2016

Thank You

I confess that there have been moments of doubt since starting this blog. I constantly have to remind myself that God called me to this endeavor, and my job is to follow His lead. I am pretty tech-savvy, and even have prior experience with web design, but the blogging arena is a new adventure for me. I’m still getting used to my newest title as a blogger, and I’m sure it will get easier as I go. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

© Ladeena Ashley
2016 All Rights Reserved (content & blog photos)