Unmasked: Finding your identity

Saturday, January 19, 2013

In all of creation, identity is a challenge only for humans. A tulip knows exactly what it is. It is never tempted by false ways of being. Nor does it face complicated decisions in the process of becoming. So it is with dogs, rocks, trees, stars, amoebas, electrons, and all other things. All give glory to God by being exactly what they are. For in being what God means them to be, they are obeying Him. Humans however, encounter a more challenging existence. We think. We consider options. We decide. We act. We doubt. Simple being is tremendously difficult to achieve and fully authentic being is extremely rare. Body and Soul contain thousands of possibilities out of which we can build many identities.”
~David Benner – The Gift of Being Yourself

It's time to find our true Identities and see exactly who it is God made us to be.

Who am I? It's a question we've all asked ourselves at some point in our lives...maybe even several times. But what really defines us? Is it the job that we have? Or the car that we drive? Or is it even where we go to church that defines who we are? We live in a world caught up in titles, labels and definitions. But we shouldn't allow the world around us to define who we are, instead what should matter is who Christ says we are.

To Him I am:

1. Accepted:
Eph.. 1:4-8 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. )

Genesis 1:27 (ESV) says that we were created in the image of God:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

2. Significant:
Eph. 2:10 "For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]);" (Amplified)

"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." (NLT)

3. Secure:
2 Corinthians 1:21-22But it is God Who confirms and makes us steadfast and establishes us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and has consecrated and anointed us [enduing us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit]; [He has also appropriated and acknowledged us as His by] putting His seal upon us and giving us His [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as the security deposit and guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise]).

4. I am Gods child!
1 Thess. 5:5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness,

1 Peter 2:5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God).

Romantically Redeemed

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The act or process of redeeming, the state of being redeemed.

So I've been re-reading this book called “Redeeming Love,” it's a romance novel by Francine Rivers. This one especially caught my attention...mostly because it's based on the book of Hosea. It's a book about this girl, Angel, whom at a very young age is sold into prostitution. She grows up knowing no other way of life, till one day, after being nearly beaten to death a man (who heard God tell him he was to marry her, and whom she has only talked to a few times) comes to her rescue and buys her way out of the brothel and takes her to live with him as his wife on his farm.

Quite often throughout this book I find myself frustrated with Angel and her “wishy washy” self. I get so excited because I think “YES! Finally she's got it! Michael doesn't care about her past....he loves her for who she is now, and who she can be!” and then she'll go back into a state of unworthiness and telling Michael that he shouldn't love her, that based on her past, based on the girl she had been, that she isn't worthy of love, and that she should never have been born. And it drives me crazy, it makes me want to get in the book and grab her myself and shake her till she realizes that none of that matters anymore. She has been not just forgiven...but she has been redeemed...her past no longer matters! After having gone after her when she left him twice, the third time Michael tells God that he is not going to force her to come back to him, she will have to choose to do so on her own. Michael waits patiently for Angel to return home, even though he is told by people that he should just give up on her, that she has most likely gone back to her old ways, and that she never really did love him. But after three long years of waiting Angel finally returns home to him...a changed woman. I love the ending to the book, I guess partially because the scene is similar to that in the ending of Pride and Prejudice. During the 2+ day journey back home to Michael, Angel wrestles with the many feeling inside her. She is overwhelming at the fact that Michael has waited all this time for her to return to him...and is excited about seeing him, but she also fears that he will be angry with her, and that this time he won’t forgive her. As she crosses the field to where he is working she slowly begins to strip herself of what defines her, first her shawl, and then her shirtwaist, till finally she removes her corset and pantalets and ending it with removing the pins in her hair...stripping away every layer of pride, she appears before Michael humble, ashamed, and naked. Realizing the pain she has caused him, she falls to the ground before him weeping, asking for his forgiveness yet again. To her surprise Michael reaches down and draws her up to him, he looks with tear filled eyes into hers and calls her by her special name, the name he calls her only during their most intimate times, “Tirzah" which means "She is my delight."

The love expressed in this book is almost overwhelming to me as it not only reminds me of the love I hope to one day find in a husband, but it reminds me of the love that Jesus Christ has for all of us. A redemptive love, a love that says “I don't care who you were before you knew me” it’s a love that says “It doesn’t matter what you've done I just love you for who you are now and who you will become.” It just amazes me how, even though God knew every mistake we would make (and will make), every time we would turn our back on Him, He chose to redeem us from the curse we were living in, He chose to bring us into his home and to be one with us despite the fact that we were not pure. But through Him we have been cleansed and made new. He has taken us from our fallen state, washed us, and clothed us in His finest linens. And you know the best part? He did this knowing we would turn our backs on Him again, knowing we would leave Him, believing it was what was best. And He still stands there, waiting for the day we return to Him again, and in our state of brokenness before Him, He forgives us, and calls us His Beloved.

Cutting To the Core: Guys

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ok...it's about to get a little bit personal here. As girls/women probably the biggest lies we will ever believe (next to the ones about ourselves) are the lies about guys. The biggest one of those being the lie that “I need a boyfriend to be happy.” the thought about wanting a boyfriend isn't bad at all, in fact it is perfectly natural. God created us with the desire to find “the one.” But where it becomes dangerous is when it becomes a NEED, an OBCESSION almost. It becomes dangerous when we let that desire consume us, when we let it control our every thought. It can become so easy to believe this lie, especially in today's society where books and media propose the idea that “you are no one unless you have a boyfriend,” and it's even harder when your friends all have boyfriends.But if we choose to believe the lie "I have to have a boyfriend to be happy" we will most likely end up believing the lie "I have to have a husband to be happy." Be careful what you allow your self to believe. What I desperately want you to know is that when it is time, God will bring the guy who fits you and is good for you. Remember it is all in God’s timing so don’t chase after guys or “fling” yourself at them. Trust that God will provide. We are told three (3) times in Song of Solomon “not to AWAKEN love until it so desires.” The first time is in chapter 2 verse 7;

“His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me. Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (2:6-7)

The second time is in chapter 3 verse 5;

“Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother’s house, to the room of the one who conceived me. Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (3:4-5)

And one last time in chapter 8 verse 4;

“His left arm is under my head and his right arm embraces me. Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (8:3-4)

The Bible also tells us that this time of singleness in our lives is a gift and is to be enjoyed as such, it is a time where we can just focus on building our relationship with Christ. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 says
“I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you're unmarried, you're free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I'm trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.” [Message]
One thing you can do to help with the loneliness of the dateless life is to make a list of the qualities you wish to see in your FUTURE HUSBAND (not boyfriend). Here's an example:

"The Qualities I most Desire In My Future Husband"
1) He is a strong Chrisian man who love's God with his whole being
2) He respects my decision of purity until marriage
3) He supports the dream and vision God has given me
4) He has a good relationship with my parents (especially my dad)
5) He shares my same passions and desires
6) He's not affraid to dream big and then go for it.

Set your standards high and stick to them...even if everyone around you says that guy is impossible to find. Remember though, that we are all a work in progress (this includes guys), so he might not meet your list exactly at first, but don't settle for less that the “essentials” on your list.

The other lie we tend to believe about guys is that “It is OK to go out with a non-Christian.” Let's clear this one up right here. It is NOT! Dating is not a ministry tool to be used to bring the guy to Christ. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 that marrying or even dating an unbeliever is sin. “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” [Message]

Now before you jump to any conclusions, it is ok to be FRIENDS with unbelievers, but dating them is not wise. Before you even consider dating someone you should ask yourself the question: “Could I marry this guy?” Dating is a time to be spent preparing for marriage, it's time that a couple spends getting to know one another, getting to know each other's hearts in order to determine if they could possibly enter into marriage. If the answer to that question is no, then you should end the relationship with as little pain as possible. There are only two possible outcomes of dating a non-Christian (1) You will be a good influence on him, (only on rare occasions does the relationship turn out like this), or (2) He will be a bad influence on you. (this is what happens 99% of the time).
The final lie that is most often believed is that “I can’t handle the loneliness of staying pure.” In today's society it can seem like everywhere you turn more and more girls your age are giving themselves over to sexual peer pressure, and the media promotes it as the “in” thing. Once you've made the commitment to staying pure you can begin to feel like you are alone in this, but the truth is that you are not alone, girls everywhere, older and younger alike, struggle with staying pure. Don’t let guys talk you into doing things that go against God’s values. Purity is the best way to live life. Remember that list we mentioned earlier? Refer to it often throughout the relationship. Saving yourself for a godly marriage is a beautiful thing, and a godly man will show honor and respect to you for remaining pure for your marriage. Genesis 2:23 tells us that God created sex specifically for marriage, to make the relationship between man and woman even sweeter. But even in godly dating relationships, it can be hard to stay pure and to control human desires. And keep Jesus as the center focus of your relationship because He alone is the most important thing in your life and in your relationship. This is easily done by:

1)Keeping Jesus in your date night conversations.

2)Praying together during the time you spend together.

3)Hanging out out in public places like the movies, the mall, restaurants, and parks (only during daylight hours).

4)Hanging out with a group of friends.

5)Creating an accountability group among your female friends to keep each other accountable (in line).
Remember that the lies we CHOOSE to believe about guys are some of the most powerful lies...but don't neglect the tool you have been given to combat these lies (you Bible).

Vulnerability is Key

Monday, September 5, 2011

I never wanted you

to see me cry
I never wanted you
to see weakness in my eyes.
I never wanted you
to see me broken,
to see me hurt.
For you I wanted
to be brave
to be strong,
For you I wanted
to be perfect.
I wanted you
to only see me brave
I wanted you
to only think of me as strong.
I wanted you
to always think of me,
to see me as perfect.

Vulnerability is something that we have been taught to think of as a bad thing. We've been taught to never let anyone see our weakness. The world tells us that the person who becomes vulnerable is the person who's weak, the world says that the hero never cries, never shows pain...that the one who's strong is the one that never shows himself to be vulnerable or in need of another person. But let me tell you this; the person who is truly strong is the one who can admit to being wrong, the person who is truly brave is the one who isn't afraid to let a few tears fall. vulnerability is essential in any relationship, whether it's our relationship with God, with our friends, our family, our boyfriend or girlfriend. Because it's when we are comfortable enough to let our guard down, even just a little, that our relationships are strengthened and tightened. When a person can open up and become vulnerable with another person or group of people, that is when true strength, true bravery, is seen. It's something I believe most of us need to remember, especially myself.

Beyond the Surface

Friday, May 13, 2011

Last week I got the opportunity to travel to Phil Campbell with our church to help out with the disaster relief efforts after a tornado had ripped through the town and surrounding area’s leaving nothing but destruction behind it on April 27th 2011. One of the things I recall very clear in my mind is that driving into Phil Campbell it looked like nothing more than a big wind storm had hit the place, there were a few trees uprooted and laying in yards, but there was minimal damage. It wasn’t till we got further in, into the heart of Phil Campbell that the true nature of the problem became apparent. It was like there was a magic dividing line, and once it was crossed, we soon realized that what we saw coming in was nothing compared to what lied within. The place was practically flattened, the trees that did stand were nothing more than twigs in the air, they had been stripped of everything that had once made them beautiful, their leaves and their branches were gone. The roofs of buildings had collapsed, walls had caved in, and the places had been deemed unsafe. People had to resort to living in tents and hand made shelters. There was no running water, and no electricity to be found. Even our own building had been destroyed.
Some of the destruction.

Our South Campus...or what was left of it.

It kind of reminds me of how we, as people can be. Just like the minimal damage on the outskirts of Phil Campbell hid the devastation that lay within, we only allow people to see what is on the outside, we fake smiles and laughs to mask the pain that lies beneath. Our conversations consist of “Hey, how are you?” “Oh, I’m pretty good. How are you?” “I’m pretty good as well” and then we part ways, never bothering to go deeper then just the outside appearance, never bothering to see the hurt that people hold within. And in reality, most people want you to dig past the surface; they want you to take the mask off their face. They want to express to you how they really feel. Maybe we don’t take time to find out because we’re always in a hurry. Or maybe it’s because we’re afraid that if we stay around any longer we will have to become vulnerable to that person. But how can we expect to help a hurting world when we can even manage to dig a little past the cliché conversations with our friends and become vulnerable with each other? I don’t mean to spill your guts to some random person, but maybe be willing to listen to them a little longer than 10 seconds at a time.

This wasn’t the direction I had intended for this post to go, but apparently God had a something different in mind. I hope you got something out of this, I know that even though I was the one writing it, I learned from it…hahaha.


The Heart of the Matter

Sunday, May 1, 2011

  So, I had been thinking on this topic for a while, but due to all the other happenings in life it got pushed to the back of my mind. And a recent conversation with a friend of mine has once again brought it to the forefront of my mind, so that’s what I have decided to write about this time.

  As girls we’ve all felt that desire to be kissed, and have maybe even dreamt about what it would be like to kiss our future husband, the guy we like, our boyfriend…etc. We dream about what our first kiss will be like, who it will be with, and that sort of stuff, I mean, we see it in so many moves (romantic ones or not), and the girl is always swept off her feet by “prince charming” somehow, whether it’s literal or figuratively. But that’s what we’ve been exposed to, so why wouldn’t we think about those things? But even though our hearts and minds wonder to that topic quite a bit most of us…if we were truly honest with each other and ourselves would admit that we are afraid that we will never get the chance to experience that. And with the way most people view relationships today, how they think they can just be dropped any moment and just move right on and go into the next relationship without thinking twice, it’s no wonder girls (even though this is for girls, guys are included somewhat too, because there can be some pretty cold, heartless girls out there too) are afraid to fall for someone. Now I’m not saying run out and fall for the first guy that promises to be there for you all the time, the first guy that makes you feel like a princess…because words and feelings will only last for so long, and then you are left with what is inside the heart. And that could either be a good thing or not. The Bible reminds us in Jeremiah 17:9 that

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?”

  We’ve always been taught to follow your heart, I mean the big message that Disney puts out is a dream is a wish your heart makes, follow you dreams, follow your heart…” and so on. But that is obviously not what God tells us. Though I’m not saying it’s an easy thing, after all the heart is deceitful…it’s the king of tricks, the master of, well heart games. But most people fail to read the next part (Jeremiah 17:10) which says:

“But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.”

  There might not be any human on earth that can truly understand the ways of the heart, but there is one who does know the heart. Who else should know the way the heart works than the Lord God, the one who created you, formed you, and made you in His image?

I know this is a short blog, but I want to remind you that these are just my thoughts on the subject, and I encourage you to do some digging for yourself. I hope I’ve left you with something to think about and to consider.


Gotta Reach for Something

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Here goes nothing,
Here goes everything,
Gotta reach for something
Or you’ll fall for anything”

These words seem to just keep echoing through my head as I think about what I believe. Not just “well I’m a Christian, I believe Christ died to save me from my sins.” I mean, who am I? What do I really, truly believe? Because in this world we live in we are so often defined by what we believe. In this world people are defined by their life style, and I have to wonder, when people look at me do they see just another teenager whose caught up in the craziness of this life? Or do they see someone who is passionate about the God that she serves? I especially like the line “gotta reach for something or you’ll fall for anything” because without a firm foundation we can easily be swayed from one thing to the next, from belief to belief, from idea to idea. If we don’t reach for any one idea, and take a firm hold of it, we will latch onto what ever new idea or thought comes by us…and not all of them will be good, but some might be.
It’s kind of like being “double minded,” trying to live two lives because we are driven by our emotions, by how we feel. The Bible says in James 1:8 that “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” I mean, how easy is it to say, “oh, I don’t feel like doing that”? I’m not trying to get down on anyone, because I know for a fact that we have all slipped and made that choice to listen to what our feelings tell us, or based a choice off of what our emotions told us at that time. I mean, if anyone should know about that, it should be me, after all I am a girl, and girls typically are known for being very emotional…haha. Not that I am proud of that or anything. But as Christians we can’t afford to be double minded, we can’t afford to be indecisive, we are to be firmly planted in what we believe, so that when the world looks at us we reflect the image of Christ. And one thing I know for sure, Christ is not indecisive, He isn’t swayed by emotions. So we need to make sure that we have a solid foundation, and that we don't base our actions on what we feel, but rather what we know and what we believe.
Well I didn't mean to get all "preachy" on you, but that's just what I felt God had lain on my heart, and that it needed to be shared. I hope I got my point across clearly, and that this makes you stop and think.