Tag Archives: identity

Blending In or Called Out?

While there’s a cry in every heart to be uniquely valued–to be loved, there’s a competing photo of men standing near each othercry to blend in and not to draw attention to yourself (unless there’s something about yourself you think will give you attention you really want).  High school & college students are a great example…in any gathering of students, hair, make-up and clothes will share many similarities.  Individuality is within tight boundaries.  Where do you think the desire to blend in & not be noticed comes from?

Does it come from God who created each person in a unique way…with unique responsibilities?

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Or does it come from the enemy of our souls…the one who hates the handiwork of God?

But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.                         2 Corinthians 11:14

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Let’s go back to Ephesians 2:10 and consider that word ‘masterpiece’ the translators chose.  The Oxford Dictionary gives us a couple insights.  The first is that a masterpiece is something made by an acknowledged master.  Consider the glories of sunrises, sunsets, meadows, oceans and mountains.  The same God who made those made you. The second definition for masterpiece is a  work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship.  Do you think of yourself that way often?

The Church–the Ekklesia –are the called out ones of the world.  We are not meant to blend in!  We are made to be different but we can only find our true identity when we get to know the Master Craftsman.  We can’t know what we are to be like until we know what our Designer is like. The craziness of a society that thinks it can self-select gender is individuality gone far astray.  Our design is only found in the character of the Designer.  Then our uniqueness is a glory to behold–just like a sunset or an ocean!

Blending in is a great danger that lurks in the world we live in.  It is purposeful danger planned by the enemy of our soul.  It is danger designed to keep us from those purposes God created us for.  It is danger that blends in with the world around us and bids us to do the IMG_3689[1]same.

As Christians we’re called to stand out…to not be like the world around us. Just like the Copperhead in the picture, danger is both present and hidden all around us.  What dangers do you welcome into your world?

Satan lays in wait, and we don’t know when he will strike.  We don’t how often God protects us from his poison. This snapshot my son took after God protected him spoke volumes to me.  The Copperhead on the right side of the log could have nailed him…he had just been standing straddle of it moments before this picture.  But God protected him.  This time.  We live in enemy territory.  Learning to watch for him and be alert is our responsibility.  Sometimes we won’t see the enemy even though we think we are being careful…even though we think we know what to look for.  Those times, we must trust in our Deliverer.

But what about the rest of the time?

  • Do your activities honor God?
  • Do your words help others know what God is like?
  • Does your spending point to the things God values?
  • Does your recreation point to the goodness of God or promote the temptations of the world?

Everything we do is a choice. Every choice we make takes us one step closer to who we are becoming.  It is a matter of life and death.

The cost of freedom is responsibility.

Choosing to honor God with every choice is the only wise use of our free will.  The only way to honor Him is to know what pleases Him. Honoring God brings good to us and the world we live in.  When God is in His rightful place in our lives, we find our place in this life. We come to understand His glory and how we are made in that same image of glory.

 

Which cry of the heart will rule your life?

  • The cry to blend in that comes from the enemy who masquerades as good?
  • The cry to be loved that comes from your Creator who made you to stand out?

Finding out who I am!

Labels are a part of our world.  They are, in their simplest form, a simple categorization…a tool to simplify the tremendous complexities of life.  They are, in their more sinister form a lens that distorts perspective.  Studies have confirmed that a ‘labeled’ individual is perceived more according to the label that the presenting facts.

Beyond the impact labels have on our perception of others, labels accepted as truth determine our own actions, restrict options and darken hope.  Labels are a poor substitute for seeking deep understanding.

Each person is a complex creation of God Himself.  Understanding identity is critical to the Christian life.  It is critical to life in general.  We cannot know ourselves until we find out who God designed us to be!

Following is a project to help disciples delve into the beauty of a life filled with Jesus! Begin with considering the ’empty wagon’ parable.  Pursing understanding of identity empty wagonoffers penetrating truth for ourselves and others.  Everyone searches to know who they are…and who others are. The quest for identity leads us onto some rough paths.  Praise be to God, there is no quietness until we find ourselves in Him.  We try activities and self-improvement project, but find that a vacuum remains between who we are and who we desire to be.  We keep trying until we realize that Jesus is the fullness we are looking for.

This truth becomes even more profound when we apply it to others.  This is a noisy world.  Everyone has an opinion and proclaims it with gusto.  Those who are the loudest are typically the ones seeking to find answers the hardest.  Choosing to be the ones who view such ‘loud wagons’ with grace and mercy may be the path that the Holy Spirits needs to give them what they are seeking!

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.  Colossians 2:9,10

The truth remains that we are empty until we live in Christ and are filled by Christ!  Everything else is just a label that sticks to the outside…but our hearts remain empty.  We do all sorts of things to feel full…but every action outside of Jesus just leaves us more empty.  The Word of God helps us understand how Jesus fills us.  When we begin to grasp all we really are and have, our world expands immensely!

Let’s look at how to FILL UP!  The list below offers verses that give us a glimpse of who joyful imagewe are when we live in Christ—and welcome Him to live in us.  It is not an exhaustive list!  There are many more verses that could be used.

Begin by drawing a simple body silhouette for yourself.   Then, look at the list below and begin to fill your silhouette with truths from God.  He is the only one able to ‘label’ us!  Please know this is not an exhaustive list of what God says about those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior.  It will help you begin to see yourself as God sees you!

2 Corinthians 5:17 – New creation; new

Ephesians 2:10 God’s work

1 Peter 2:9 chosen, royal, holy, God’s possession

Romans 8:1 NOT condemned, approved

John 1:12 child of God

2 Corinthians 5:21 righteousness of God

John 15:5 productive, fruitful, branch

1 Corinthians 6:19 temple

Ephesians 2:6 seated in heaven

John 15:15 friend of Jesus

Galatians 2:20 crucified, CHRIST in me!

2 Timothy 1:7 power, love, self-control

Romans 8:17 heirs of God, sibling of Jesus

Philippians 4:13 able, competent

1 John 4:4 overcomer, winner, victor

Philippians 3:20 citizen of heaven

Romans 12:2 transformed, renewed

1 Corinthians 12:27 part of the body of Christ

1 Corinthians 6:17 joined to Spirit of Jesus

1 John 5:18 protected

Romans 5:1 peace with God, connected to God, justified, cleared, not guilty

Philippians 4:19 equipped, fully supplied, NOT needy

Colossians 3:12 chosen, holy, beloved

Ephesians 1:3 blessed

John 15:16 appointed, fruitful

Ephesians 1:7 redeemed, forgiven

Psalm 139:14 wonderful, God-made, God-designed

Romans 8:37 conqueror

Matthew 5:14 light

Ephesians 1:4 holy, blameless

1 Corinthians 2:16 mind of Christ

Romans 8:28 called

2 Corinthians 5:20 ambassador, messenger

Matthew 5:13 salt, flavor, preservative

Romans 6:23 – Ephesians 2:5  alive!

1 Peter 1:23 eternal, lasting

Colossians 1:14 redeemed, saved, bought, forgiven

1 Thessalonians 1:4 loved, chosen

1 Peter 2:11 sojourner, exile, pilgrim, traveler

James 1:22 do-er, servant

1 John 1:9 cleansed, holy

1 Peter 2:5 living stone, spiritual home, holy priesthood

Acts 1:8 power-filled, powerful, witness

Romans 6:18 slave of righteousness

1 Corinthians 3:9 co-worker of God, field of God, work in progress,  masterpiece

Galatians 3:28 united, connected, part of the whole body

Colossians 1:22 holy, blameless, above reproach

2 Corinthians 2:15 sweet aroma, fragrance

When your silhouette is complete, post up a picture!  If you want to create a ‘cloak’ for your silhouette of labels you ‘wear’ – fun, silly, smart, mom, daughter, son, writer, secretary…have fun.  Decorate your silhouette in any way you wish.  We wear different ‘hats’ in life but we must remember they are changeable.  Our core identity does not change.  Any label that does not fit what God says about us must go!  Live in who God says you are!

Be JOYFUL Always!

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  Be joyful always.

Maybe your heart is saying, “Really?  Joyful?  My parents fight; someone is always mad at me.  My dad never acts like I matter.  I can’t do the work I’m expected to do.  I never do anything right.”

Or maybe your head voices sound like, “Nothing I do is every enough.  The bills never end.  Something always needs—or at least wants—something more than the money allows.  The house is a disaster.  I don’t remember what joy feels like.”

Yet the words stand.  Be joyful always.  It is part of our Christian identity.   Joy is a character trait that should be found in every Christian!  Like many aspects of faith, joy is the result of deliberate action.

The actions that lead to joy are found in the next two verses.

  • Pray continually.
  • Give thanks.

Pray continually.  Put those mountains that block your joy into the hands of Jesus and walk into the presence of God!  Trust that Jesus will move them aside and clear the way to the life God desires for you.  Joy comes from the presence of God.  When we allow the stuff of life to keep us from the beautiful presence of God, we fall short of His desire—fall short of the joy of the glory of God.

Give thanks.  Thankfulness is as natural as breathing when we rest in the presence of God.  Do you remember when you have been in His presence…really seeing Him and feeling Him as the Word describes Him?  All powerful.  Supreme Authority.  God of Love.  God of Comfort.  Holy.  Just.  Righteous.

Thanks flows from a heart that sees and rests in Him.  And THAT is the essence of the last verse:  the will of God for you in Christ Jesus!  Jesus came that we would have abundant life.  JOY is the flavor of that life.

God’s desire is for you to have joy in Christ Jesus.  If your life does not taste like joy, talk with one who spends time in the presence of the GREAT GOOD GOD of Scripture.

Do you live a divided life?

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Confusion is a tool of the enemy.  God is a God of order and peace.  He says what He means, He means what He says…and He offers us a choice to believe it or not.  Our choices have consequences.

We live in a confused and chaotic world because so many choose not to believe what the Word of God states.  That truth is truth for believers and non-believers alike.  For those of us in the Church, some of society’s confusion seems so extreme we are tempted to judge with condemnation and criticism instead of speaking with a clear, gentle voice of truth.  The heart of God breaks for those confused about such a clarion issue as gender.  The rejection of the clear Word of God, (Genesis 1:27, 5:2; Mark 10:6) creates chaos at many levels.  There are more subtle rejections of the  Word of God that create equal chaos.

Circumstances. Experiences. Opinions. Desires. Needs.  The temptation to elevate any of those to ruling power in our lives often overcomes believers.  We elevate those things–our selves–above the Word of God and allow our thoughts to be clouded.  “I can’t…” is a phrase that is only accurate if it partnered with “I can’t do anything without Christ.”  The mind–and the power to choose what we allow into our mind–is a transforming gift given by the Creator to humanity.  Every circumstance, experience, opinion, desire and need offers us an opportunity to seek the will of God and step out in faith.  This world is the proving ground for the glory of God…He loves to work in the fragile, imperfect, fallible clay vessels of humanity.

Choosing to believe His promises, HIS WORD, in the midst of life prevents divided living.  The choice is for ALL of His Word–not just the pieces we like. God is not divided.  He is love and He is wrath.  His Holiness if complete…it does not include any unrighteousness.  He cannot be impure and pure at the same time.  Neither can we.  We are to live wholly in the redemption of the Cross…wholly in the life of Christ that lived upon the Word of God.

Departing from the pure wholeness of the Scriptures creates divided lives of chaos and confusion.  It prevents unity in the Body and clouds the glory of God.  We are not called to create unity but to keep unity in the Spirit–and we do that as we walk in the Word.

Do you know who God created you to be?  

Do you know your design and your destiny?  

God wants you to.  He wants you to know it and to live it…so others will do the same.

DESIGN AND DESTINY

Do I matter? Does anyone care?

It is the question we hate feeling:  Do I matter?  Does anyone care?  We spend much of our lives seeking activities and relationships that give us an affirmative answer.  There is only One who can answer that to our complete satisfaction.  The only One who can answer it is the One who created us.

Animals are amazingly helpful in leading us to the Answer.  You don’t need to come to an A.A.R.T. session to experience the power.  Use your own pets…even observe on in the wild and ask yourself some questions.  Come on an AART discovery with me!

ABCS of Safety, Security & Significance

In the Garden of Eden, the choice to reject God’s one command cut humanity off from the Need Meeter. When we seek to meet the needs that God built into us…instead of seeking Him…we sin & become captive to that sin. Restoring connection to the Father begins the process of healing…and fulfillment…and loving ourselves. From childhood to senior citizen, we must find how Christ is the answer we seek and understand how to apply that answer to diverse situations.  It isn’t a ‘one and done’ process.  Life gives us new challenges DAILY.  Living fully means knowing IN THE MOMENT, every moment, who we are in the eyes of God.

Acceptance by God restores IDENTITY for individuals.  It provides strength for life in a changing world. When roles or actions give a person identity, they never learn the unique design God gave them. “Who am I” is a necessary question because the answer gives stability.

Animal-assisted Insight

  • How & when did you become a ‘pet parent?’
  • Are they conscious aware of your  care & provision?
  • Does their awareness of your effort change your care for them?

God-sightings:

  • What does God do for you that you may not have noticed?
  • How does awareness of His provision change your view of your worth?

Scriptures:                  Psalm 139:13-14

Belonging to God restores boundaries that provide safety and security. In the natural world, safety is an increasing concern from childhood to old age. Involvement with animals requires learning to be observant of body language and danger zones. It is easy to appreciate the value of fences, leashes and lead ropes. Let’s extend those truths to things we face daily:  the internet, to strangers with candy or puppies and to individual choices.

Animal-assisted Insight:

  • What ways to do you protect your pet?
  • What happens when they break through those boundaries?

God-sightings:

  • What ways does God ‘limit’ His children?  Where do you feel limited TODAY?
  • How does He make us aware when we break through those boundaries?

Scriptures:                  Psalm 46:1

Calling of God restores purpose to lives. The Word tells us God has created us for good works…and for connection to Him. He treasures His children and cares for them. Using the natural needs of animals (nutrition, coat & hoof care, exercise), coaches draw parallels to caring for the body as the temple of God and caring for others.

Animal-assisted Insight:

  • What needs do you meet for your pets that you tend to neglect for yourself?
  • What do you expect from them?
  • Are your animals meeting a need for you that they are not designed to meet?

God-sightings:

  • Christ died so we could take our needs to God:  What needs do you take to God?
  • Are there things you know God desires for you that you do not press toward?
  • What need are you facing today that you are trying to meet on your own–or even with your animals?

Scriptures:               Ephesians 2:10

Who am I

I have one eye that is used a lot but I cannot see.  What am I?

You see me where I never was…and really can never be.  What am I?

If you say my name, I disappear.  What am I?

If I drink I die, if I eat I’m fine.  What am I?

Riddles are kind of fun, aren’t they?  If you want the answers, join the Six-Days to Abundance journey and let me know about it.  I’ll send the answers on! 

But did you ever consider that each of us is a bit of riddle?  We spend much of our lives trying to answer that question, who am I?  It is a critical question because it is the foundation of our lives.

Whether we know it or not, we make our decisions based on what we believe gives us worth.  We choose our actions, our friends, even life-time pursuits based on what we feel gives us ‘value.’  In fact, who we understand ourselves to be is a life & death matter.  The heartbreaking reality is that over 44,000 people commit suicide every year…and that’s the reported suicides.  Life is difficult.  Without understanding the value of this life we have, we end up assigning value to parts of life.  Those parts will not hold up to the rigors of life.  Identity rooted in the Giver of Life grows stronger as the years progress.  It is the only foundation for life.  So, how do you define yourself…do you even know?

Write an advertisement for yourself.

What would someone need to know to know you?.

What do you come up with?

Wife.  Athlete.  Or maybe disabled.  Mom.  Divorced.  German or Italian.  Teacher.  Pet owner.  Couch potato.  High School drop-out or PhD candidate.  So & So’s child…or parent.  A Christian, a Muslim.  Jewish.  Homosexual.  Prisoner.  Addict.  Pastor. Winner.  Loser.

 All of those are important but anyone of those things can change (even ethnic heritages are sometimes not what we thought).  When things change, you will still be you.  So ‘who are you?’

We are each a riddle…until we go to the One who created us.

You (God) made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Psalm 139:13

God is the Giver of Life.  As Paul said to the Romans, in Him we live and move and exist.  The only way to know who we are is to go to Him.  God has given us life to search out the answer to the question of identity.  He calls to us throughout life and sent Jesus to open the way for us.  The choice to go to Him is ours.  What often drives us to Him are the disappointments that comes with a faulty understanding of self.

  • If I am what I achieve, what happens when I fail?  My identity…my sense of self bottoms out.
  • Or what if I achieve great things…think of the celebrities who have ended their own lives or whose lives are stolen by addictions….and still can’t find fulfillment?  The praise of others is not life-giving.
  • If I build my life on my children…or a spouse…and their quest takes them from me, what is my foundation?
  • Or if my identity has been in my job and my company closes, how do I face the rejection that comes with job-hunting?
  • What if I made one bad choice that haunts me for decades?  Is that the sum of who I am?

No!  The stuff of life is where we live out who we are…it is not supposed to make us who we are!

We find out identity by going to the maker.  We recognize that in other realms of life.  Take a look at this picture.  What is it for?  You can click the picture to find out but thepoint is we go to the creator (or one who has experience) to find out purpose.  

With the precious gift of life, why would we not do the same!?  We want to be the masters of our fate, but the ways that seem right to us often create havoc.  Jesus came that we might have abundant life!  Listen to who the Master says you are…and then live with awe for His love and the masterpiece He has wrought in you.  Give yourself to the world and to revealing Him.  You will be blessed and so will the world!

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Image result for identity in Christ verses

There are countless resources aimed to help Christians embrace the identity that comes with faith in Jesus.  This is one.

Living out this identity is a life-time challenge that requires us to stay connected to God and others.  It gives us a foundation for living.

All that we search for is found in Jesus. Let Him Love You! 

Fresh Start

I actually love the week in-between the Christmas and New Year celebrations.   The emphasis on true love–agape, sacrificial love–is the perfect backdrop for the New Year.  And the New Year doesn’t feel like starting over…it feels like a fresh start.  And it is!  The truth is every day is fresh and new.

We don’t need the calendar to move us forward…but it sure does help focus eyes on the future, doesn’t it?

Today–the last day of the year–is the perfect time to put everything at the foot of the Cross.  2482236610_4c2d16c398_z (283x267)

Box it all up! The good and the bad and put it at the foot of the cross.Box it all up! The good and the bad and put it at the foot of the cross.

AND REMEMBER WHAT THE CROSS GIVES IN RETURN!

Ephesians 1:7 is a great verse to go to for that reminder!  IN HIM, we have forgiveness of sins and redemption through His blood according to the riches of God’s Grace.  

Think about what that means.  In Christ, we are secure and significant.  We are citizens of heaven.  We have a spirit of power and love.  We have all the grace and mercy we need–just for the asking!  God chose us!  He is at work completing what He began in us!  doesn’t that make you excited for the new year…and for each new day in it?

May you shine for Him in incredible new ways in the coming year!  He has equipped you…use what He has given and rejoice in Him!

Come back tomorrow for one of my favorite tips on growing in faith!