Archive for the ‘Identity’ Category

Who am I?

July 17, 2010

This morning I was reading a book on 1st century culture.  In that culture, like many of the cultures of the world today, one got their identity by how they were viewed by others.

This was helpful to keeping the societal ‘mores’ in place.  If you complied with the societal mores, you were honorable and dependable.  If you didn’t, you were shiftless and fickle.

In that world, the societies often believed that success was based on the group’s (a whole culture, a city or even a unit as small as a family) ability to please a god.  Christians went against this more.  Thus, new Christians, no longer went through the rituals to appease the gods?   Life got difficult.

Suddenly, everything that went wrong was their fault.  They were no longer appeasing the gods, and when bad things happened, everyone knew that the gods were mad.

Why do you think that Paul spent so much energy helping people to find their new identity in Christ?  Could this be part of the ‘riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints?’

Sometimes, we see ourselves based on our screw ups and failures in life.  When we are successful in life, we feel like we are worthy.  When we are a failure – well, devastation is our middle name.  When other people like us, we are important.  When we feel abandoned, we have lost our importance.

Through Christ, God has a different perspective.  When Christ paid the price on the cross, anyone who accepts him becomes part of God’s family.  This means that we are judged by different standards.  No longer do our mess ups matter.  Those are covered by Jesus.  Instead, God sees us for who we are – the person He created for a purpose.

God made you for a purpose.  You don’t have to see yourself based on your success or failure.  You can see yourself as God sees you – perfect and acceptable.  A son or daughter of the Creator of the Universe.  You have the ability to be whatever God has called you to be – regardless of your past.  Regardless of your present.

Sometimes it is tempting to look at ourselves in light of our un-done-ness.  When we look at ourselves this way, we think that we will succeed someday.  Someday, when I get things organized.  Someday, when I shake this habit.  Someday, when I have more time.  You are being and doing now.  “Someday” is usually an excuse for avoiding today.  What, then, should we do while we wait?  Get to know God.  Learn to see yourself the way that God does.

Daniel had a lot of reasons to think that ‘someday’ life would get better.  He was an official in Babylon, but he was also a slave.  He had no choice but to serve the kings of Babylon.  What would have happened if he saw himself the way that others did?  He would have died young.  Instead, he saw himself the way that God did, and despite his circumstances, He lived with purpose.  He became because he lived.

Today, take a look at what your life is about.  Are you waiting for ‘someday’?  Are you beating yourself up for the past and letting other’s opinions dictate who you are?  Have you discovered your new identity in Christ?  Are you looking for opportunities to live on purpose today?

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Who’s Using Your Eraser?

April 20, 2010

There are some things that you can never erase – a misspoken word…

Sometimes the things that you want to erase aren’t your own actions, but the difficult times – whether they be life’s hard times, or the actions of others.

I’ve been thinking about conflict this week.  I contended in a Facebook conversation that conflict can be positive.  I don’t think it ever feels positive, but I think that it can have a positive purpose.

Romans 5:3-4 says:  “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

1 Peter 1:5-7 says, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”

We can’t learn faith we are at the end of our rope.  Goodness is added next – it means modesty, virtuous action, purity.  Interesting that faith comes before good action, not after.  To good action we add knowledge (which you don’t get without first realizing your lack thereof), to knowledge we add self control.

This list is so long – I think I understand why he put faith first!  I think we have to return to faith every step of the way.  Just the act of learning self control is the beginning of learning perseverence.  As you can see, this list requires us to rest in faith and learn to master conflict.

Do you see that giant eraser I started this post with?  The trick to the eraser is that it only works in God’s hands.  When we spend our energy trying to erase our problems, we aren’t using conflict situations as opportunities to grow.  If we start in faith, we find that God uses the eraser to shape our picture, add shading, and take out the errors.

In the end, perseverence will finish its work.  We will find that God has developed us into the peopel we were each created to be.

You Can’t Mess Up God’s Plan

April 12, 2010

Do you sometimes feel like this broken down barn – like your usefulness is gone? Do you feel like you somehow managed to screw up the design for your life and ended up with a saggy, moldy roof? Do you think God had a plan for you and you missed it?

The children of Israel really did miss God’s boat. They refused to go into the Promised Land. Once they were there, they continued to make mistakes. God’s response? God didn’t change his plan, He just delayed it and worked their mistakes into His plan.

God worked with the People of Israel until they were ready to do what they were called to do. He molded and shaped them, reworked their understanding of Him and themselves, until they were ready to walk into the Promised Land.

Once they were in the Promised Land, they discovered a few things:

1. God’s provision changed. In the desert, He always provided by giving manna. In the new land, they ate from the fruit of the land. I imagine at first this was a little sparse given that they hadn’t yet taken enough land to support the size of nation they had become.
2. God’s discipline was complete. He forced them to keep their focus on Him. When Achan disobeyed and took plunder from Jericho, the whole nation suffered and people died. God plays for keeps, and He is very serious about helping us attain our goals, but he demands our entire focus.
3. When they made an honest mistake, God used it for their benefit. The people of Gibeon tricked them. Joshua and the leaders messed up and followed their senses instead of asking for God’s input. They really messed up, but it wasn’t in rebellion, it was in stupidity. God used this blunder to bring five kings against Israel. At the end of the battle, Israel had continued the campaign and taken a huge part of the territory God had given them.
4. Adversity is often God getting ready to increase your territory. With the exception of Jericho and Ai, the battles that Israel fought were started when other nations came against them. They had a choice – fight for fright. They fought, obeyed God, and their territory increased.

God won’t leave you with a moldy saggy roof unless that’s what you really want. If you want to fulfill the purpose He created you for, He will make a way. He is the master of work arounds and new plans. He makes mistakes into new victories. If you are missing a support beam or two, He will build you a new one.

Living Free

March 24, 2010

A baby elephant is tethered with a very strong rope.  By the time the elephant is big enough to break the rope, his brain pathways have developed strong grooves and the elephant firmly believes that the rope will hold him.

From the time we are young, we are taught to fit in a system.  That system has social, mental and physical rules.

Then Jesus comes on the scene.  He came that we might have LIFE and have it to the full.  He came that our life might have more meaning that mere existence.  He came so that we could find joy when all we can see is drudgery.

The problem is that our brain has very deep grooves that tell us that we are supposed to stay within the system.

How do you change a brain pathway?  You do something different.  You learn something different.  This is the role of the Holy Spirit and of scripture.  God’s Spirit talks to our spirit, and slowly, we are changed from the inside out.  The thing is, we need to spend time talking to God.  The second part is scripture.  Reading the bible rewrites our brain pathways and helps us to see God’s way.  Let’s face it – we are finite.  We see things from a limited perspective.  God is infinite.  It would be wise of us to look for His input and ask for His help in gaining the leverage we need to live a life of freedom and joy.

The real definition of joy and freedom is living above the fray.  When we live life from God’s infinite perspective, we are able to walk in freedom:

  • to have joy when we see drudgery
  • to walk in love when we feel sorrow
  • to have an impact in the lives of others and see them for who they really are – valuable individuals created for a purpose.

So, I encourage you to join me.  I’ve been reading through the Daily Message this year and finding out what God has to say.  Today, He reminded me to live free.  What has He told you lately?

Perfection is overrated

November 28, 2009

We have perfected the banana.

Now it is facing extinction.

Big Mike was the preferred banana until the early 1960s when it was all but wiped out by a fungus called Panama disease, a relative of the Dutch Elm disease.

In lue of going without bananas, the industry switched to the Cavendish banana.

Wherever you go in the world, the Cavendish banana looks the same.  It has been perfected.  But a new version of the Panama disease is now threatening the Cavendish crops.  Soon, we may have to face eating our average of 26.2 pounds of bananas per year from a different species of banana.

Perfection is overrated.  We thought we’d fixed the banana problem, and here it goes again.  Life seems to be that way as well.

Every time we find that we have managed to determine that:

  • We are not in control
  • God is in control
  • We ask Him to fix things instead of trying to do it ourselves

Every time we find we are able to forgive ourselves and accept forgiveness, forgive others, and forgive God,  life changes.  A new situation, a new blight hits us in the face.

So if we aren’t trying to be perfect, what is it all about?

It’s about the Journey.

Paul, talked about this journey to the Philippians:  (I am) confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Have you ever felt like there was “rot” in your life, things that you just couldn’t overcome?

Some days it seems that just as you get one Panama Disease destroyed another one crops up.

You have a Creator who loves you.  He knows you down to your molecules, and He loves you.

More than that, He has a purpose for you.  Not a purpose like a cog in a wheel, but a purpose that will fit exactly with your personality, limitations and abilities.  Nothing about you surprises God, yet He has a purpose for your life.

Your purpose isn’t to be perfect.  He is the one who does the perfecting.  We just let Him do it.

We are powerless, God is Powerful, We let Him do it.

How Can I Forgive?

October 1, 2009

I’ve been thinking about forgiveness since Sunday.

David had a tumultuous relationship with Saul.  Saul was his king, yet Saul was on a rampage, trying to kill him for many years.  A careful review of scripture shows that David did not let anger and bitterness take root in his heart.  He lived in this difficult relationship, yet walked in an attitude of respect and showed that he was working for Saul’s good.

How did he live in forgiveness and display godly love when Saul was throwing javelins and sending soldiers after him?

I think the key is in Psalms 11-14

  1. God is God, and we are not.
  2. Have a real relationship with God and don’t pull any punches – ask God the tough questions.
  3. Be honest with your feelings, don’t pretend to be ‘holy’.
  4. Trust God – explicitly.
  5. God is the vindicator, trust Him.

This point of view allowed David to glimpse himself in the mirror and see the commonality he shared with the person who threw the javelin.  The difference was that he trusted God.

It was this reflection that allowed him to hold forgiveness and compassion and resist bitterness.

Without God, we are all worms, we are all helpless and hopeless.  Hurting people hurt people.  God wants to show us something.

Every action causes a reaction. When a hurting person lashes out, if we lash back, we have created an increasing momentum swing.  However, if we take the hurt and lay it at Jesus’ feet, we free ourselves up to act in forgiveness and compassion. We have stopped the negative actions and begun a cycle of positive action.

Forgiving…Me

August 31, 2009

Just about 18 years ago, someone said something to me that really set me back.  I had been going through a rough time, was making mental progress, and then they said something that made me feel like a nothing again.

All these years I’ve felt two things about that event –

1. Regret –  I just wished the event hadn’t happened.

2. Frustration – I have always been frustrated that I didn’t have the skills to do better.  When that bomb exploded in my head, a mental block happened and I didn’t follow through on a promise.

Today I found out that someone is dead – like, not here anymore, but long since in heaven – dead.

It suddenly occurs to me that all the regret and frustration won’t help anyone and I’ll never be able to relive or fix that moment.

I have long-since forgiven that poor woman with the misspoken words, but I now need to forgive the immature, hurt person that I was.

Why am I still carrying all this stuff around anyway?

Release, Renew, Rejoice.

How Does It Do That?

August 23, 2009

101_0079Jesus says, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63

He also said that although God prunes those that bear fruit, the words Jesus spoke to the disciples made it so that they were already pruned. (John 15:3)

Jesus’ words are powerful.  We need them for spirit, life, growth and fruitfulness.

We need to listen to Jesus.   What are three things you can do this week to spend time listening to Jesus.  Better yet, what are one or two of your biggest obstacles to hearing His voice?

My last question:  Jesus’ Word brings us life, pruning (and therefore) growth and fruitfulness.  How does it do that?

Finding Your Place

May 18, 2009

You are significant.  You can add value every place you go.  You don’t have to become someone else.  God made you with your personality and giftings.

The point where you meet the world is unique to you.  It is a point that only you can fill.

Here is a simple way to think about how you meet your world:

Your DNA interacts with your communities’ DNA.  Because this interaction is unique, it adds value.

So, what is your DNA?

Design – what were you designed to do?  What are your natural giftings?  Are you a developer, a planner, or a do-er?

Nature – how do you relate to people?  Are you an introvert, and extrovert? Do you work best in groups or one-on-one?

Advantage – What is it about your situation in life that stands out?  What angle do you approach life from?  This could be the color of your skin, your socio-economic background, your joys or pains in life.  Your advantage or angle gives you a special perspective and lens through which you can come alongside others and add value. If you’ve accepted Christ into your life, part of your DNA involves the person of Christ.  His perspective and power are part of your conversation and add multiple dimensions to who you are.

Now that you know who you are, you need to focus on the community that you will be interacting with.  This might be your home environment, or it could be your work environment.  Where do you spend the most time and have the most potential to develop relationships?  For each person, it will be different.  Many people find that they can be part of two communities, but for the purposes of this discussion, we are focusing on one community at a time.

What is your community’s DNA?

Demographics – who are the people in your community?  What are they like? How do people show they care?

Needs – what are the needs in your community?  How (and are) they being met?

Assemblage – where do people gather?  How do people gather? What are the normal, acceptable modes of participation in the “group speak”?

As you work out these two lines of DNA, you will begin to see how they intersect.  Your perspective and advantages and giftings intersecting with the perspective, needs and personality of the community.

You were put in this community for a purpose.  What does God want to do there?  Figuring that out is a post for tomorrow.

You have a purpose, and you’ve been put in a place.  God will help you fulfill what you were designed to do.

Put Your Dream to the Test

May 15, 2009

blogWhen you dream, there is an urgency in your heart that pushes you forward, even through the great big ginormous valleys.

Sometimes, you are tempted to run to the nearest scalable wall and get out.  The only way you will reach your goal is to continue through that valley, one step at a time.

What is your dream? God created you for a dream, and now you have a tool to help you live it.

Usually, when I review a book, I read it in a week or less and blog about it.  Not this time.

I’ve been reading John Maxwell’s latest book “Put Your Dream to the Test” for about a month.  This is not a book for people who want life to stay status quo.

Put Your Dream to the Test will take you through a series of questions to bring clarity and focus for the journey ahead.

  • Is My Dream Really My Dream?
  • Do I Clearly See My Dream?
  • Am I Depending on Factors within My Control to Achieve My Dream?
  • Does My Dream Compel Me to Follow It?
  • Do I have a Strategy to Reach My Dream?
  • Have I Included the People I Need to Realize My Dream?
  • Am I Willing to Pay the Price for My Dream?
  • Am I Moving Closer to My Dream?
  • Does Working toward My Dream Bring Satisfaction?
  • Does My Dream Benefit Others?

You are unique.  You are the only person who will add value to the world in the way God created you to add value.  We need you to discover the dream He has placed in your heart and to pursue it.  This book won’t just help you, it will challenge you and energize you to be the person you were created to be.

So what’s your dream?