Random Statements Re: Identity

At your core, you are who God says you are.

Your job title is what you do not who you are.

Your bank account balance is what you have not who you are nor what you’re worth.

Your relationship status and history reveal your choices based on who you believe you are.

Anytime you identify yourself different from God’s identity of you, you may face hardship, confusion or regret.

When you wake up to a misplaced identity crisis, correction is as close as a prayer.

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A Must Confession

Confession: n. 1. Confessing. 2. A thing confessed, a statement of one’s wrongdoing. 3. A declaration of one’s religious beliefs or one’s principles, a confession of faith

Yesterday morning in my prayer time I had some confessing to do. The main item I remember needing to confess was passing judgment on someone the day before. As I voiced those words the lyrics to Kari Jobe’s song came to mind. In prayer and in this song the work of confessing both happen but come from different places. This proved worth some meditation.

In our natural state, we are bent toward wrongdoing like passing judgment. As Christians, when we are in tune with the Holy Spirit, He lets us know pretty quickly when we do wrong. Then we have a choice. Will we admit the wrongdoing? Will we go beyond a confession to God and share any other needed confessions to wronged people? Will we take the opportunity to taste the unholiness of our natural bend in order to pursue the holiness of a supernatural bend provided by God?

To more permanently adjust our bend, maybe we should routinely declare our beliefs. Why? 

  • Because they remind us of our frailties
  • Because they remind us of our need
  • Because they remind us of God’s provision 
  • Because they keep us on the right road
  • Because they establish the boundary between right and wrong, good and evil
  • Because they feed our souls
  • Because they keep us in agreement with God and others

A confession of the cross is probably the best place to start. Rather than a maybe it should be a must.

Adopted Forever

“How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:3-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Our church has a partnership with Florida Baptist Children’s Homes. They do tremendous work for children in need in our state as well as around the world. Check out their website.

They have a celebratory phrase they use when they have been able to facilitate a successful adoption. They say the child has found their forever family. The first time I heard that phrase several things came to my mind:

  • That child is safe
  • That child is accepted
  • That child’s future is restored
  • That child can rest
  • That child is secure
  • That child’s wait is over
  • That child can be forever satisfied

Take those thoughts and apply them to the spiritual truth and promise of being adopted by God. They are deepened when you read that He decided to adopt us long, long ago.

I’ve been thinking lately about identity. Knowing one identity I have is an adopted son of God is simply amazing. And that identity is forever. How blessed! What peace!

Thankful for Re- (2)

Everyone experiences loss; it’s part of life. To live trying to avoid loss is futile, even unrealistic. However, not all losses are the same. 

For the purpose of this blog, let’s categorize losses in life under two headings: uncommon and common. Uncommon loss refers to loss that is traumatic, unforeseen, you might even say unnatural. The events of loss in Orlando in the last week are in this category. It’s difficult to imagine being thankful for uncommon types of loss. Common loss, on the other hand, refers to loss that can be expected, foreseen, you might say natural to life. Common losses include financial investments, jobs, relationships for various reasons including death to illness and natural causes. Once you’ve grieved a common loss, it is most definitely possible to be thankful for the loss. How might that look, being thankful for loss?

With a loss comes the opportunity to fill the space vacated. A door is open. A chance for re– to occur (see blog Thankful for Re- 1)

  • When a home is lost due to fire, you can be thankful for the chance to rebuild. Ask Job.
  • When hope is lost due to a leader leaving, you can be thankful for the chance to rethink the mission. Ask Peter.
  • When your whole world seems lost due to God’s judgment for man’s actions, you can be thankful for the chance to rewrite history. Ask Noah.
  • When your future plans are lost due to your husband’s death, you can be thankful for the chance to redirect those plans. Ask Ruth.
  • When a friendship is lost due to jealousy and mental instability, you can be thankful for the chance to redefine friendship. Ask David.

In your common loss, look for the open door. Look for the re-. Be thankful for the re-.

What common loss have you grieved and can now find the re- to be thankful for? What got you to that place of thankfulness?

Thankful for Re- (1)

Scripture encourages us to include statements of thankfulness in our prayer lives (Philippians 4:6). In my prayer of thanks today, two things came to mind:  forgiveness and loss. One sounds positive, the other negative. Why did those come to mind? What’s the basis for being thankful in good and bad, joy and sorrow, positive and negative? This is the first of two blogs sharing those thoughts.

Thinking on those two things led me to words that began with the prefix re-. Re– often begins words that indicate a return to a previous condition, often verbs that indicate restoration. Such words include replace, remake, realign, redeem, and reform.

When forgiveness occurs, several doors may open for a return to a previous condition

  • Rebirth – a child offers their mother forgiveness for giving them up for adoption and their relationship is reborn
  • Renewal – a spouse offers their mate forgiveness for keeping a secret and their trust is renewed
  • Restart – a boss offers their employee forgiveness for a misjudgment and their work is restarted
  • Reunite – a church offers their pastor forgiveness for sin and their communion is reunited

These examples are certainly good, joyful, positive outcomes. Good, but not easy to achieve. Forgiveness takes hard work, just like getting anything back to its previous condition. If you’re wrestling with the hard work of forgiveness, think on the re-. Look forward to being thankful for re-.

When have you experienced the thankfulness of re- through forgiveness? How did you get there?

3 Steps Toward Contentment

Who doesn’t want peace and contentment? For some reason, it seems some people are better peace dwellers and contentment finders than others. If that doesn’t describe you, maybe these three steps will give you some direction.

Stop dwelling in the past and/or worrying about the future. Both of these fixations cause emotional paralysis and can lead to depression. If you are a past dweller, consider the contentment that may be found in forgiveness, often the healer of the past. If you are a future worrier, consider the contentment that may be found in releasing control, often the peacemaker for the future. Reluctant forgivers and control freaks can both find contentment through deepening their relationship with God, which leads to step #2.

Look to God. He knows the feelings of regret (see Genesis 6 and 1 Samuel 15). He knows also the feelings of releasing control. His gift of free will to man illustrates He practices releasing control every second of every minute of very hour of every day. Whatever feelings are leading you away from contentment, God has dealt with them and therefore can assist you with them (see Hebrews 4:14-5:10). Looking to God should release lack of contentment pressures, which leads to step #3.

Reduce your self-induced pressure. This pretty much happens between your ears. Find ways to control your mind rather than it controlling you. For example, instead of worrying how you’re going to pay for your son’s college education, seek financial advice to determine what you need to start doing today, telling your mind there’s a plan in motion. Or instead of replaying that destructive conversation with your sister from seven years ago, reach out to her today and say you thought about her and prayed for her, telling your mind you have taken a step toward reconstruction. Take the first step; don’t worry about step #54. Reduce the pressure a little bit today.

Stop. Look. Reduce. If you have to, repeat these steps several times a day. Contentment is a learned discipline. Start practicing and be on your way to becoming one of the others.

Share what steps you take toward contentment. What tends to be a common barrier and how have you addressed it?

Perhaps God…

In Jesus, CEO, Laurie Beth Jones says that both David and Jesus were able to mentally accept and integrate injustice as being part of God’s larger, loving plan. David illustrated this when his army wanted to defend him against cursing from a family member of Sauls. David denied them by saying perhaps God has sent him to curse me (2 Samuel 16). Jesus illustrated this multiple times in the closing narrative of his life by reminding everyone the authority they had was given to them from on high (John 19).

Life is lived differently when God is credited as the plan-maker, plan-developer, plan-controller.

For an illustration of this, follow this link to a friend of mine’s blog who has recently been diagnosed with cancer, who also lost her husband to cancer just five years ago.

What life event have you have a hard time accepting or understanding? 

How might your acceptance be altered if you considered that this life event was actually part of God’s plan?

Leave a comment about your thoughts on this viewpoint of God’s involvement in our lives.

Breadcrumbs 

1 Job answered GOD: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.” (‭Job‬ ‭42‬:‭1-6‬ MSG)

This is the beginning of the last chapter of Job. You might say Job is admitting that his eyes have been opened. When you experience God firsthand, your eyes are opened regarding who’s in charge. Until then, your fear or awe of God has no chance to be properly placed. Your misplaced fear produces arrogance, questioning, second guessing, babbling. That’s what Job now sees. Job therefore declares he ain’t going back. Back to where he relied on rumors about God. Back to a relationship with God built on vicarious teaching, reading, and conversation. 

Job compared his previous knowledge of God to be nothing more than living on a diet of breadcrumbs. No wonder he muddied the waters and ignorantly confused the issues. He was malnourished. When you recognize you’re malnourished, you have an opportunity to change diets. In Job’s case, he chose to reject human breadcrumbs and receive the Bread of Life. He asked for forgiveness and excused himself from the wrong table to take a seat where he could receive first helpings. No more breadcrumbs for Job!

Have you ever experienced what Job is describing? What did you do in that moment?