Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
By the time this column goes to press Christmas will have arrived, and thus I am not worried about potentially ruining the surprises Dana and I have in store for our daughters. This year we were able to fill two of the biggest wishes our daughters have had for a good while now. But it is the way in which we did them that makes me the happiest.
My youngest has been asking for a vanity and my eldest for a bookshelf. These things can be bought rather simply; they are not hard items to find. But all of us in the Wagner household have more of a penchant for things that have a back story to them than we do pre-fab items that come in a box.
A couple of months ago while walking through a local flea market, Dana and I found an antique vanity. It had some broken woodwork, a hideous chair, a damaged drawer bottom, and at some point in its history someone managed to spill paint on the front of it. We bought it and brought it home, put it into hiding, and I have spent some hours while the girls are at school refinishing it. The paint stains are gone, the broken woodwork is restored, the drawer bottom replaced, and the chair has been stripped and stained and recovered with bright owl fabric.
At about the same time I received a call from a family member parting with some books and a shelf that belonged to my late grandfather. I went over and perused the books, and left with several boxes worth, including the works of Solzhenitsyn, H.G. Wells, George Orwell, Aesop, and other literary gold. But I also left with the bookshelf and a plan for it.
My eldest daughter is a reader and book lover nearly equal to me. And she and the rest of my children grew up listening to me read the C.S. Lewis classics “The Chronicles of Narnia” to them. All of them loved it, but she utterly adored and absorbed it.
So I took the aged bookshelf of my grandfather, her great-grandfather, and completely changed it. I painted every bit of it solid white. I put lion head handles on all four doors. I painted an old style lamp post on the right side that stretches from top to bottom, and on the left side put the words “Beware all who enter here! Adventure and great dangers await.”
And now I am waiting for Christmas morning and wishing it would hurry up and arrive so I can give them the things that I have made new for them…
I understand that Jesus may or may not have been born on December 25. That is, to me, irrelevant. The date that he came is not the issue; the fact that he came is the issue. That said, though, I find a beautiful symmetry in the fact that we celebrate his birth on December 25 and then just a few short days later are celebrating New Years. You see, no one ever makes things new quite like Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
The decades-long drunk? Christ has made him new; he now serves in a homeless ministry, preaching against the dangers of alcohol. The man who grew up trusting in liturgy and rituals? Christ has made him new; he teaches a Sunday school class, telling teens that salvation is by grace through faith alone. The woman who once had the reputation of Rahab? No one would even know her now. Christ has made her new; she is faithful to her spouse and raising her children for the Lord. The man who once loudly claimed he was born for other men? Christ has made him new; he left that life at the foot of the cross and never looked back. The former drug-addict? Christ has made him new; he has clear eyes and steady hands as he runs a broadcast camera for God’s glory.
All of these are people that I know personally from pastoring and evangelism. They were not changed by determination or will power; they were changed by Jesus. They knelt before him, confessed their sins, asked him to save them, and were born again. The Holy Ghost took up residence in their hearts. They all became new.
If Paul can go from murdered to missionary, if Peter can go from denier to defender, if Nicodemus can go from self-righteous to saved, then none of us are beyond the power of Christ to make us new. There is no sin so deep, no desire so strong, no habit so ingrained, that Christ cannot deal with.
Let him make you new.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org