Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Who Am I?

Who I Am?
Image by tonyhall via Flickr

We live in a world where identity crisis is rampant. When I was growing up, I remember hearing older kids, teenagers, talk about finding themselves. As I got older, it was understandable what they meant by finding yourself because who I became wasn’t exactly who I thought I was and I was glad.

I witnessed some people lose their way and heard some say that it was because they couldn’t handle who they were or that they hadn’t yet found out who they wanted to be. It’s still common to hear my mother say that men take longer to find themselves than it does women.

I learned in psychology classes that the emotional growth of a woman is stunted when she gives birth to a child too early in life, since she hasn’t fully matured yet. I had a friend in the military who was an anorexia survivor and continued to struggle with the disease. She advised me that those that suffered with anorexia and bulimia were suffering from an identity crisis. A friend of mine has a ministry in Florida and their goal is to minister to homosexuals and lesbians who are trying to find their way and have questions about their identities.

The Book of John tells us that we are both the children of God and a Friend to Jesus. John 1:12 says, “But to all who did accept Him and believe in Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” And in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I heard from my Father.”

The Book of Romans tells us we are justified, freed, secure and assured. Romans 5:1 states, “Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Romans 8:1-2, it says, “So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made me free from the law that brings sin and death.” And in Romans 8:28, “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called because that was His plan.”

In I Corinthians, it says we are united, we belong and that we are a member of Christ’s body. In I Corinthians 6:17, “But the one who joins with the Lord is one spirit with the Lord.” And in I Corinthians 6:19-20, “You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves, because you were bought by God for a price. So honor God with your bodies.” And, in I Corinthians 12:27, “Today you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of that body.”

In Ephesians, we learn that we were chosen. In 1:3-5, “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. That is, in Christ, he chose us before the world was made so that we would be His holy people, people without blame before Him. Because of His love, God had already decided to make us His own children through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased Him.”

In the Book of Colossians, we learn that we are forgiven and complete. Colossians 1:13-14 says, “God has freed us from the power of darkness and He brought us into the kingdom of His dear Son. The Son died for our sins and in Him we have forgiveness.” And, in Colossians 2:9-10, “All of God lives in Christ fully even when Christ was on earth and you have a full and true life in Christ who is ruler over all rulers and powers.”

In the Book of Hebrews, we learn that we have direct access. Chapter 4, verse 16 states, “Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.”

Finally, in Philippians, we learn that we are citizens of heaven! Philippians 3:20, “But our homeland is in Heaven and we are waiting for our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ to come from heaven.”So, is it an identity crisis or identity direction? Is it about knowing who we are, or is it not knowing who He is?

Are you a successful Christian?

Jesus resurrected and Mary Magdalene
Image via Wikipedia

You are the only one that can define your success, as a Christian or anything else that you set out to do. What you want from your Christian life could vary greatly from what I want from mine. The true meaning of what it means to be a Christian may be different for you than it is for someone else. We could say we are a success now, just because we call ourselves a Christian. But, what if we decide that our becoming a Christian, was really the sacrifice and work of Christ alone, that we just accepted Him as our Savior and that really, the road to Christianity is just beginning, and we have a long way to go before we reach success? That is what I decided and these are just some of the areas that I am working on, ways that I want to illustrate that Christ is King of my life.

I want to remember people, so they will remember me.

As a Christian, I want people to know I feel they are important by remembering their names and remembering important things they share with me. I want this not only because they are God‘s children and I should care about them because God does, but also so that they will be more likely to remember me. I want them to know I am there for them and can help them if they need it.

I want to remember that success is independent of age, education, failure and public opinion.

There are many other traits that you could put into this category that could be your stumbling blocks, but these particular ones have just been areas where I’ve personally had the most difficulty overcoming. The enemy uses these attributes as weapons against me often, wanting me to believe that my age, my education or lack thereof, a fear of failure and what other people think about me or my actions are legitimate reasons for me not being the best Christian I can be.

I had to generate a life purpose and remember it every day.

It’s tempting to get caught up in our families, jobs and even church work. Those things aren’t bad, but we know there is an eternal life beyond the one we are living. We have God’s Word as the instruction book for our lives. So, there are certain things we are commanded to do. Beyond our own wants and desires, we must concern ourselves greatly with the will and purposes of the Father. It’s easier and more beneficial to us, if we incorporate His will into our lives instead of keeping our plans and purposes separate from His. Our goal, as much as humanly possible, should be to let Him guide us into our purposes.

I have to work really hard to keep a positive attitude, and I fail often.

It would be nice if God could flip a switch in us, after we become Christians, that made us magically feel good all the time, regardless of the circumstances. Or, would it? I guess it kind of goes against the free will rule, doesn’t it? I know there are others like me who are trying really hard to bite their tongues, think before speaking and trying to leave work outside the door when they come home. But, I also know others that seem to never be ruffled, never speak a cross word, and seem to have a smile on their faces every time I see them. What is the secret? I do know that there was a time in my life when I didn’t even question my attitude, it never occurred to me that I had to be more open to others and less caustic when someone didn’t get my order right the first time. I praise the Lord for opening my eyes to my behaviors and attitudes, I guess that’s a good start.

I have to remember to have a sense of humor.

If you’ve spent any time in this world at all, you know our Lord has one. Otherwise, we would have never had the experience of seeing a giraffe or an anteater. And, how about the coldest winter on record after the big, bad, global warming scare? A co-worker made some special coffee at work one morning and told me it was ready. As I went into the break room, I noticed there was only enough left in the pot for one more cup. I was feeling particularly smug, being one of only a few who would have the privilege of drinking this delicious brew, as I poured the coffee into my styrofoam cup. I gazed out the window at the beautiful morning, and as I looked back down at my cup, to my utter horror, the coffee was going into the cup and right through the bottom side, where there was a hole the size of a dime. I hurried and grabbed another cup to hold underneath my damaged one, but I was only able to save a little less than half.  I was so disappointed, but I repented as I cleaned up the break room counter, and I laughed all the way back to my desk. I very much enjoyed my three drinks of coffee and as the scriptures tell us, I know the Lord was laughing too.

There’s so many other areas that the Lord is helping me with, like perseverance, dealing with change, and especially giving me courage through Him, so I can share Him with others. We have to remember we are, sometimes, our own worst enemy. Don’t stop learning and growing; you will be a successful Christian, if you will just allow Him to walk with you.

40 Lessons in 40 Years

Forty Steps

Image by Troy B Thompson via Flickr

Forty doesn’t seem that old to me anymore. When I was nineteen, forty seemed ancient. Fortunately, I’ve learned a few things since then and these are forty of the most important:

1. I have a lot left to learn, and most often what I “know” changes.

2. Pride is the father of most of our sins and poor life decisions.

3. Fear and Doubt are our two greatest enemies after Pride. They are the ultimate obstacles. They will do whatever they can to stop you from fulfilling your dreams.

4. The more I own, the less satisfied I am. The more you have, the more you think you need.

5. How many times have you been cut off on the highway to eventually pass the car that was in such a big hurry? Seems silly, doesn’t it? But that’s how most of us live our lives every day, rushing from one activity to another, never really enjoying any of them. Life is much better, when we slow down and take time to live it.

6. Goals might not be as important as you think. Try working without them for a week; your work still gets done. Goals are another item to manage, like bill-paying and coupon-cutting! Who needs that? Cut out the bureaucracy.

7. Life is a vapor. I read that in the Bible years ago, but getting older makes it a reality. Young people feel like there’s a huge amount of time ahead, I know I did. But, it passes much faster than you think. The rate your kids are grown and gone can give you whiplash.  Appreciate every second!

8. The future is ahead regardless of how you are spending your time now. Why stay caught up in the past you cannot change? Stop the rewind, it’s distracting you from the present and there’s a reason they call it a present. Enjoy it!

9. Your child is not an interruption. Give your children your full attention. They will not always be underfoot and then you will be wondering where they are and how they spend their time.

10. Debt is bad. I’ve been there a few times and none of the trips were good. Credit card, Student, Home, Personal, Car, Co-sign, it’s all bad. Debt causes illness, more debt and can ruin marriages and lives.

11. Weight is much easier to lose when you are young. Don’t hit 30 overweight, and I promise you will feel better when you are forty.

12. I wasn’t the coolest kid. That’s a good thing, because it prepared me to be a parent that isn’t cool. Cool is over rated and just being competent will keep you busy.

13. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas doesn’t apply to the Internet or your email. If you don’t want the world to see it, don’t post it or type it.

14. You can lead a horse to water, whether or not they drink is none of your business. Focus on your behavior and your to do list. Let people worry about their own decisions.

15. Don’t follow. Lead, even if you have to change directions many times. You are the only one that knows where you want to go even if it hasn’t occurred to you yet.

16. You can’t do it all. There are some things in life you might miss out on. Give yourself permission to enjoy your life.

17. I am human. I have made and continue to make mistakes. I choose to forgive myself and the people who choose to remind me of those mistakes have been removed to the outer circle of my life. I forgive them, but control over my present, using the tool of my past, has been revoked.

18. Failure is a big pathway to success. Without it, we wouldn’t know when we’ve succeeded.

19. Books are the greatest gifts. There’s something for everyone and it makes us slow down long enough to listen to the viewpoint of someone else.

20. Make sure you hug the people you love, do it often. It’s amazing how much better it will make you feel. They might like it too.

21. Friendship isn’t free. You have to work on the relationship, don’t take your friends for granted.

22. Fitness isn’t something to start on New Year’s Day and stop on Valentines. It’s a lifetime decision that I hope to make a decision about soon.

23. Don’t schedule your happiness. Don’t get in the mindset of once this or that happens, I’ll be happy. You won’t! There will always be another “destination” to make you happy. Be happy now, right where you are. It’s a choice.

24. Love cures all problems. Trouble with your spouse? Love them more. Financial problems? Love yourself by forgiving yourself and moving forward. Want to cure stress? Love someone else and focus on them. Work problem? Love your boss and give him or her a hug.

25. Stop living in fantasy land and let go of expectations. You have no right to expect anything of anyone or anything. It usually has no basis in reality and sets you up for a
big disappointment.

26. Giving is so much better than getting, and giving up the need for recognition is powerful, it sets you free!

27. Competition isn’t always healthy. It’s linked to pride and can get in the way of so many goals. Cooperation is life-giving and it requires some humility. It gets easier with
practice.

28. Gratitude is one of the best ways to find contentment. We are usually discontent because we are focused on having more, not on how much we already have.

29. Dogs really are man’s best friend. They still want to hang with you even when no one else does. They always listen, even if they choose not to do what you said. They will
always play with you and they easily forgive you no matter what you do.

30. Get some perspective. If you spend most of your time alone, make time for some friends. If you are a social butterfly, get some time alone. Humans are rut-prone, we
begin to only do or be with what we are comfortable with, don’t get too comfortable. Narrow perspectives breed discontent.

31. All we are taught in schools, and all we see in the media (news, films, books, magazines, Internet) should be questioned. You have been lied to at some point. Do your own homework!

32. Empathy and compassion are not natural. Both must be learned and if you don’t know them, learn them quickly. Assumption is the mother of most embarrassments. Do
yourself a favor and learn not to judge.

33. Do less, not more. Don’t fill your life with a checklist, you are not a machine. Focus on what you love, throw out the rest.

34. No one knows what they’re doing as parents. We’re all faking it, and hoping we’re getting it right.

35. Love is a choice, you don’t fall in or out of it. Love is hard work and most people are lazy.

36. One of the greatest lessons you can teach your kids is self-sufficiency. Don’t depend on the school to teach them this, they won’t.

37. Freedom isn’t free. Stating you are not interested in politics is the same as stating that you don’t care about your freedom. You are already involved if you live here, pay
attention!

38. God is much more interested in saving our souls that He is in making sure we are comfortable.

39. Accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

40. Life is a gift every day. Re-gifting it and sacrificing your time and energy for others makes it even more amazing!

The Vantage Point

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, Oil on canvas

Image via Wikipedia

It’s the moment you wish for death. Perhaps you prayed it would never come. It’s a sickness, a loss, a financial catastrophe, or an emotional trauma so horrendous, you don’t think you will survive. You are hurting, angry and confused. As a servant of God, how does one reconcile tragedy in the checkbook of life?

The answer lies in these first few verses of James:

(James 1:1-5 KJV)– 1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers’ temptations; 3 knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally…and it shall be given him.

James’ purpose in writing this letter to the twelve tribes of Israel was to encourage them regarding the persecution they had suffered. They were scattered abroad, as told in the Book of Acts, after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God allowed this, so they would go out into world, spreading the message of the gospel.

James tells them there are four responses they should exhibit during tragedy:

1. EXPECT

In the second verse, James writes, “My brethren, count it all joy, WHEN you fall into divers temptations.” It wasn’t IF, but WHEN. It’s going to happen, we will have tragedy. Because of sin, death and sickness, as well as hurt and pain, were realities for the Christians during the time of James, just like Christians today.

2. ENJOY

Another word in the second verse to notice is joy. Confusing, isn’t it? There’s more clarification in verses 3 and 4, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience, but let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” It’s not the actual tragedy we are to be joyful about, but the result. Read I Peter 1:7 (KJV), “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” When gold is refined, it is burned at 1900 degrees to remove the dross. But, Peter is informing us that through this refining, we will one day be given praise, honor and glory.

3. EVALUATE

Again in verse two, notice that we are supposed to “count it” all joy. When you count, you are calculating. Anyone can experience tragedy, but it takes wisdom to evaluate what the profit might be. This is where verse five comes in, because it tells us that if we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask God for some. And please notice that it doesn’t say that He might give it to us. James tells us that He WILL give it to us liberally. When I was a little girl, and I couldn’t see something, I would open my arms, lift them high, and ask my father to pick me up. When my father lifted me, I could then get a look at what he saw. When we ask the Lord for wisdom, we are asking the Lord to pick us up, so we can view our situation through His eyes.

4. ENDURE

In verse three, James tells us that the trying of our faith brings us patience. We have no choice but to walk through the trying of our faith. Sadly, some are not patient and give up, forgetting the words of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose” (KJV). But, if we endure, God has a promise for us: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12 KJV)

Where is the vantage point? It’s not in the traffic! Ask the Lord to lift you out of the chaos and up to the control tower. If we fail to ask for the outlook only God can give, we will wreck our lives instead of enjoying the gift He has given us.

Mind Control

"Satan Sowing Seeds" by Felicien Rop...

Image via Wikipedia

Fear, Depression, Loneliness, Anger, Doubt, Confusion, Insecurity, Hopelessness, Worry, Self-pity. These are various seeds that can be found in the enemy’s pockets. We suffer unnecessarily because we allow these seeds to grow that we let Satan and his minions plant.

The good news is that each lie can be overcome with prayer, faith and the truth of God‘s Word.

We have to be aware that the enemy will try to steal God’s Word from us.  His dialogue goes something like this:

“Did God really say that?” Or, “Does God really mean that?”

“Will God really care if you do that?” and “Do you really think God is paying any attention to you at all?”

How about when he contradicts God’s Word altogether: “God didn’t say that!”,  and “God is withholding good things from you because of what you’ve done!”

We have to recognize that we are being set up. If you stop going with how you feel and hold up these lies to God’s Word, the enemy will be exposed everytime. We have to determine, right now, what we will accept in our mind and what has to go. Every sin begins with a thought in our minds.

If we don’t control our minds, the enemy will. God is not the author of confusion. When we fill our minds with thoughts of God, prayers to God, meditation on His Word, books and magazines that glorify Him, service to others, the welfare of our families and our Christian brothers and sisters, there is a lot less room for the enemy to enter in.

A great way to determine whether or not your thoughts are from the enemy is to ask yourself if they are thoughts that you would want your children to have, or if they are thoughts that someone you know, that loves you, would want you to have. If they are not, then chances are highly likely that they are from the enemy.

Thoughts from the enemy are condemning. Thoughts from our Father are convicting. There is a huge difference. Our price has been paid, we are free, and there is no condemnation from our Savior.

Romans 8:6–For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Isaiah 26:3–You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

Memorize these as soon as possible and repeat them to yourself when your thought life is being attacked. They can be your armor against the one who seeks to kill and destroy. Don’t be a victim, you are a warrior!

Secret Recipe

How often do you hear people say, “That church just doesn’t do anything for me.” Or, “I just don’t get anything from going there.” How often are you guilty of going to church to feed on the message, the activities, the “entertainment”, not willing to offer anything from yourself? I’m guilty.

“I went up…to Jerusalem…by revelation and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach” (Galatians 2:1–2). Paul didn’t go to Jerusalem because he was looking for something, he went to share something with them. He went to share what God wanted to reveal through him.

Paul didn’t learn what he preached about in a library with books and commentaries. He didn’t isolate himself from the crowd and write down his message, thinking, “Someday my work will be read by future generations.” Paul wrote his many chapters in dark, damp prison cells, while wiping the blood from his back after being scourged. He wrote them as a shipwreck survivor, after crawling from the sea.

Everything Paul knew and taught was learned on the battlefield of faith, and he rejoiced about his trials, saying, “now I can preach with all authority to every sailor who’s been through a shipwreck, to every prisoner who’s been locked up with no hope, to everybody who has ever looked death in the face. God’s Spirit is making me a tested veteran, so I can speak his truth to everyone who has ears to hear.”

We will never attain the glory of God by praying our way out of every inconvenient or horrible circumstance. True spirituality is going to come to us right where we are—in the bad or good life events. God doesn’t always lift us out of our pain, but He will always walk through it with us.

Paul’s secret recipe to living a glory-filled life was a willingness to accept his conditions without complaining. “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). The Greek word for content means “to ward off.” So Paul is saying, “I don’t try to get out of my situation, I don’t beg God to lift me out, I own it. I have faith that the Lord is doing something I may not understand, but whatever it is, it will bless my life and the lives of others.”

Our job in every circumstance is to trust God. He can provide all the power and resources we need. It doesn’t mean we enjoy our bad situations, it’s just that we no longer try to protect ourselves from them. We leave that up to our Father and trust that He is shaping us into the image of his Son.

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