Bad Habits

Let’s talk about bad habits. I have picked up some old bad habits since the quarantine that I am eager to get rid of. Sometimes when stressful events occur, we default to the flesh and revert to that “old” man that we used to be. I had high expectations for this time away from my normal, busy life, but instead of the good things I wanted to accomplish, bad things began to manifest. As Paul said in Romans 7:14-20,

“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”(Romans 7:14-20)

I think we are all subject to feeling this way at one point or another. The good things I know are right, that I want to do, I don’t do them. The bad things that I hate, those I do. I love God and I want to please Him and be obedient, but my flesh wars with my spirit. Sometimes the flesh wins a battle and sometimes the spirit. Thankfully, I know the spirit will win the war! He continues to proclaim,

21”I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” (Romans 7:21-25)

No one wants to admit they are a slave to anything. The negative connotations of slavery, being owned by someone (something) else and having no power or authority over your own person, makes people defensive. Yet, we continue to make ourselves slaves by the choices that we make. Sometimes we can make better choices and sometimes we cannot. However, praise be to God that our bad choices do not dictate the outcome of our lives. That alone belongs to God.

 1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:1-2)

This does not excuse our bad behavior and choices. We will have to answer to God. He gives us the freedom to choose the right thing, but He also gives us grace when we choose the wrong thing. He desires that we make the good, right choice and tells us that we are not alone.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) (Romans 8:9)

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. (Romans 8:12-14)

When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, He accepted us as well, warts and all. He knew our nature because he had lived as we have lived. He understood our temptations and cravings, yet He made provision for forgiveness. He has given us all we need to be victorious overcomers. Don’t give up!

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)


7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

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Settling For Less

My neighbor has a garden every year filled with vegetables and flowers. I can look out my breakfast room windows and watch it form from freshly turned dirt to abundant harvest over the course of the seasons. Having worked in a garden growing up, I know the hard work involved in raising and tending to a garden. There are hours and hours of hard work in the hot sun, hoeing and weeding and fertilizing and harvesting. The amount of work you put in affects the yield you receive in the end.

Our spiritual lives are like that garden, too. The hard ground of our hearts has to be broken up in order to be ready and effective for the planting of God’s tender seeds of instruction and direction. Any clods, (or strongholds), need to be busted up so that they don’t interfere with the planting of the Lord. Then we have to put in the work of being obedient, living a holy lifestyle, and submitting to God. The amount of work you put in affects the yield you receive in the end.

I am not insinuating that you must work your way into heaven. I’m just saying, if you’re like me, being obedient, living a holy lifestyle, and submitting to God is hard work! The devil knows all my pressure points and when to apply them. God is greater, but sometimes I am weak or apathetic or just plain rebellious. Mostly rebellious. Just like in the parable of the sower, some of the seeds fell on good ground and some didn’t. 

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:3-8

I have different types of ground in my heart. Some of it yields to God easier than other parts. There are A LOT of clods. Every time I think I have them all busted up, another works its way to the surface. What is most disappointing is when I think I have one busted up, only to find that it was much bigger and deeper rooted than I thought, so it resurfaces. It is at those times that I get the most discouraged and stop working. However, I also think it is at those times that God gives me the most grace and mercy. He knows that I am struggling to bust up the clod, but he waits patiently for me to ask Him for help. Since I am notorious for trying to do things on my own and in my own strength, He is patient. He doesn’t want me to settle for less of a harvest than He had planned for my life, so He gently prods me and waits for me to return to the work in the garden.

God wants the same for you. In Ezekiel 18: 31-32, God says,

 “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” (NKJV)

If during this time you have been settling for less of a harvest than you know God has planned for you, take a moment to repent and turn back to Him. He hasn’t left you. He has been patiently waiting for you to “But when he came to himself, “ (Luke 15:17). So go get your garden tools and get back to work. It’s not going to be easy, but with God’s help, you can get the weeds back under control and your harvest can still be great.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9

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Consider Your Ways

“Consider Your Ways” What does that mean to you? I had been searching for where to go next in my Bible reading and was feeling decidedly unsatisfied. I had completed several Bible studies that were all very good, informative, applicable and challenging. However, I was still feeling like there should be more.

After much prayer and procrastination, I came across a blog post that mentioned Haggai 1:6. Haggai? I wasn’t sure I’d read that correctly so I pulled out my Bible and started to investigate. Sure enough, I found the passage and upon reading some of the background related to the book of Haggai, I knew that this was my next stop.

One thing I found incredibly interesting was the fact that Haggai’s “ministry” only covered a period of slightly less than four months. I had been dealing with the loss of yet ANOTHER job after only a year and nothing on the horizon to replace it so the fact that he was used by God for such a brief time really fascinated me. I know that God places us where He wants and when He wants, but I was still hurt and feeling like a failure. After I read that his ministry was so short, I started to think about how that related to MY life.

Perhaps I had been looking at my situation incorrectly. Instead of bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have a steady job that was dependable, maybe I should consider that God was using that situation to make me depend more on Him and not my job. This cut deep. I am very much an independent person that wants to pull my own weight and contribute. When I don’t feel like I am doing that, I am attacked by feelings of worthlessness. I know that I am not alone in this. I also know that my worth is not determined by anything other than Christ and His sacrifice for me.

However, knowing this and actually living it are two different things. It can be hard to remember when you are pressured to provide for your family. This was the situation that Haggai was addressing. The exiled people were returning to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the temple. Along the way, the people had become sidetracked by providing for themselves instead of fulfilling their purpose; rebuilding the temple.

The book of Haggai opens with a conversation between God and His people:

 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak,[a] the high priest:

2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”

3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

The people had become more focused on providing for themselves than on rebuilding God’s temple. I think we are all guilty of making ourselves (needs, wants, desires) a priority over God. The people were remodeling/updating their homes, adding cedar paneling, (crown molding, new paint, grand landscaping, new appliances and furniture) instead of contributing to the rebuilding of God’s house. Because of that, God spoke through Haggai a convicting question and an admonition to consider their ways:

5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.”

6 “You have planted much, but harvested little.

 You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. 

You put on clothes, but are not warm.

You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.”

Well, if you are like me, you have put a lot of time, energy, effort, and resources into your own “garden/farm”. (Your provision for your family) But, it never seems to be enough. (Your harvest is small).

You eat and drink but are never full. You are consuming everything in sight but it still isn’t enough. (Your appetite is bigger than your resources). Do we really need all that stuff we are accumulating? Will your kids die if they don’t get the latest “whatever”? Consider your ways.

“You put on clothes, but are not warm.” (We are doing things that we think will fix the situation but somehow it just leads to more trouble). We are putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. We can’t correct spiritual problems with physical remedies.

“You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” (We are being wasteful). I don’t know about you, but I definitely know the feeling of bleeding money. It seems like every day there is a new bill, something that has to be bought for school, the rates went up on something, or something breaks down and has to be fixed or replaced. That’s not even counting the maintenance and upkeep or the things we want to do. Mostly our purse has holes in it because of poor or selfish choices. Don’t misunderstand, there are many people who DO NOT earn enough to properly care for their family. I am speaking to those of us who do but maybe waste too much on “stuff”, “status”, or “entertainment”. 

This all boils down to two sentences:

You are not living a satisfied life.

You lust for more.

Consider your ways.

So the question now is, what do we do about it? It’s honestly as simple as making a choice. Will you choose to live a less selfish life in order to “rebuild” God’s temple? The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;”

The people that Haggai was addressing were rebuilding a temple building. We are the temple. The Holy Spirit resides in us. We no longer need a physical building for God to inhabit because he lives in our hearts. We should still gather together to worship, honor, and praise Him. We should gather to serve and love and encourage other believers. The Bible instructs us in Hebrews 10:25 not to forsake assembling together because we all need to be encouraged and held accountable.

Now, how do we apply this to our lives? It is easier said than done. We have to make a choice of will. We have to choose to spend time with God in prayer. We have to choose to spend time reading God’s Word and asking tough questions like:

What do you want me to know, see, understand, or change because of this?

How do I need to reorder my priorities?

How can I model this for others?

Then we actually have to follow through (another choice of will) on whatever it is that God reveals to us. So many times we know what it is that God wants us to do; we just don’t want to do it. I’ll confess that following through is one of THE hardest things for me; and I am sure others also struggle with this.

I hope that this has somehow inspired you or made you feel less alone in your own situation. (Reposted from August 2017)

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A Few Good Men

Have you felt like things were spiraling out of control recently? I know I have. With all that is going on in the world right now, most of us are terrified to leave our homes, unsure about the future, and trying to resist caving to panic and fear. Our front line workers and essential employees are fighting to help stem the spread of the pandemic that is sweeping across our nation while still providing the goods and services we need to keep going. We have good men and women working and serving everyday to help others.

All the good notwithstanding, we must consider possible reasons behind the state of the world at this moment. It is time for self-reflection. Is there anything I can do to contribute?

Most people, even unbelievers, know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The two cities had become so full of sin that The Lord Himself came down to investigate and see with His own eyes. He stopped by Abraham’s tent and foretold of their coming son, Issac, and then made his way towards the two cities.  He did not hide what He was going to do and Abraham interceded on behalf of the people of the cities. Abraham begged the Lord to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, even though they were so sinful, for the sake of the righteous who might be living there. Abraham begged that if fifty could be found, would The Lord spare them? The Lord agreed to spare them for fifty. Abraham risks further wrath by arguing for smaller numbers five more times, until he gets to the number ten.

“Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” And the LORD replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”(Genesis 18:32)

However, as we all know, ten righteous people could not be found. The two cities could have been saved by a few good men. 

What about your city? Are there ten righteous? Can it be saved?  The Bible tells us in 2 Chronicles what to do in times of trouble.

At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)(emphasis mine)

Are you the swing? Is your “city” counting on you to be one of the righteous? Are you living like it is? If not, humble yourself. Pray and seek God’s face. Turn from your wicked ways. What would happen if we all chose to live like we were the deciding factor in saving our city?

It is time for self-reflection. There is something you can contribute. Prayer. Pray for personal, local, and national repentance and protection. Sacrifice. Stay home and practice social distance when you must leave on essential trips. Understanding. Follow rules and guidelines to help stop the spread. Leaders are doing all they can, lift them up in prayer so that they can make wise decisions. This is an unprecedented situation and therefore calls for an unprecedented reaction.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

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The Tyranny of The Urgent

Now! Right Now!!

We often get caught up in the rush of everything. Rushing to work, rushing to school, rushing to church, rushing to activities and obligations we signed up for, but now regret. Do you feel pressure and stress rising yet? I do. My heart rate became elevated just writing about it because a million things are running through my mind. Things I was already supposed to do, things I am working on right now, things that are on the horizon that will have to be addressed soon. 

Suddenly I realize I have allowed my life to fall victim to the tyranny of The Urgent. And, just like any tyrannical dictator, The Urgent seeks to be the ultimate ruler in my life, usurping the legitimate ruler’s sovereignty. The Urgent is going to use any means necessary to maintain its oppressive rule over my life.

Unless I fight back. 

Only by recognizing that I have succumbed to the tyranny of The Urgent can I rise up in revolution against it. I will have to recover the weapons I have surrendered because of distraction. That’s just how coups work. The dictator sets up a distraction and then slips in the back and takes over. By the time you realize what happened, they’ve convinced you to surrender your weapons and your freedom. There is no mass uprising because you’ve been distracted by small things being fired at you in rapid succession from every direction.

So, who or what is The Urgent? The Urgent is a cruel dictator who seeks to keep you so busy and wound up so tight that you start to see everything as critical and requiring immediate attention. This increases your stress levels and begins to destroy your relationships as others try to meet your unreasonable expectations. Some situations are urgent, but if ALL of your situations are urgent, you should probably reevaluate what is going on in your life. Are you creating an environment of urgency because of procrastination? Reflect and ask God to show you what needs to change.

Now, how do we fight back against The Urgent? 

Number One – Prioritize. In order to avoid falling victim to The Urgent, we have to have priorities and we have to uphold them. The Urgent likes to swoop in during a crisis situation because a crisis gets you off track. The Urgent wants to keep you off track and erase any progress you might have made so that you feel defeated. 

Number Two – Don’t Give Up. When you get off track (because it will happen occasionally) get back on as soon as possible. Don’t STAY off track.

Number Three – Stay Close. Staying close to the true sovereign of your soul is the best protection against The Urgent. When you are in a close relationship with God, it’s not as easy for The Urgent to take over. Put on and USE the whole armor of God to stand firmly planted, not giving ground to the enemy. Most importantly, praying so that you are in constant communication with the One who has given you the righteous victory through His blood.

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:11-18

We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 2 Corinthians 10:4

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Purpose Revised

After thinking about my identity, I began to start thinking about my purpose. For the longest time, I have been confusing my purpose with my identity. What I am, or see myself to be, is my purpose, therefore, what my medium of employment should be. Like, my job had to be “God ordained”, and if I wasn’t in a certain job, then that couldn’t be the right job because God had led me to do this other thing, right? (LOL) 

I based all my future expectations on this one step in my life. Then that step was supposed to lead to the next logical step. However, as we all know, God usually moves in mysterious ways, not logical ways. He even warns us that He’s going to fake left when we think He’s going right. Proverbs 3:5-6 states: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” 

The Good News Translation says it even better: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know.” (LOL) This led me to a purpose revised.

A Purpose Revised

For over ten years now, I have been chasing, fighting, and forcing my way into something that was MY plan and MY expectation, but not necessarily God’s purpose for me. When He revealed my misconceptions, I felt a bit foolish, but He comforted me with a few facts:

#1 – Nothing is ever wasted. No trial, tear, or heartache and no joy, accomplishment, or victory will sit on a shelf unused.

#2 – Training will be ongoing until I get to heaven. I cannot be perfect here. And, just because He uses something to teach me a lesson, doesn’t mean I should focus on that method to the point of obsession, excluding all other methods. I don’t always have to learn the hard way.

#3 – Purpose has TWO definitions, neither of which are my identity.  As a noun, purpose means the reason for which something is done or created for, or for which something exists. We have a collective purpose as Christians to tell others what Christ has done for us and what He can do for them. As an individual, the verb definition, to have as one’s intention or objective, is more suitable. Therefore, I can choose my medium of purpose so that it is specific to me. 

For example: My intention or objective (purpose) is to tell others what Christ has done for me and what He can do for them through writing. I can write devotionals to help others draw nearer to God, I can write Bible studies to help people learn who God is and how He wants to interact with them, I can write fiction stories that teach Biblical truths in a way that might reach those who wouldn’t otherwise pick up a Bible.

Conclusion

The point is, my purpose is the same no matter what. It doesn’t depend on the type of employment I have and it is not to be confused with my identity. And, a lack of employment doesn’t mean that I am not fulfilling my purpose or that my identity has changed. Jobs, like seasons, change over time.  God moves us as He sees fit. He is our security. 

Also, our identity is found in Him. If you try to find it anywhere else, you will be discouraged and disappointed every time. 1Peter 2:9 says 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Likewise, Galatians 2:20 says

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Then John 15:15 reminds us

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

Why? For what purpose? Ephesians 2:10 says  

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Expedition: Present and Future – You are NEW

So my final questions to you are these: What is YOUR purpose? And what have you PURPOSED to do in your life? Your present and future will be affected by what your answers to these questions are. You will have to make a choice. You will have to choose to let some things go (bitterness, unforgiveness, expectations). You will have to choose to pick some things up (discipline, accountability, responsibility), and then move forward in the revised version of life.  Philippians 3:13-14 says

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

We have to know who we are and live intentionally every day. How can you tell someone else who they are in Christ if you don’t know who you are?

This expedition won’t be easy so I suggest you find a few trusted friends to help you along the way, because being a hero is hard. We need someone to help us carry the burden. Even though we are heroes, we are still human. And no matter how much we say or demonstrate otherwise, we need other humans for help and support. It’s too hard to make it alone.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

This is the ultimate lesson that every superhero learns. We are stronger together than we are apart. And this is the lesson that God wants us to learn, too. He is always with us, so we are not alone. We are stronger together than we are apart.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Holy Father,

Thank you God that you have provided all we will ever need to be victorious in Christ. Thank you Lord that you love us with so great a love that it can never be diminished. You will never love us more or love us less based on how we perform. Jesus, show us who we are in you so that we can show the world who you are in us. 

In Jesus’s name, Amen! 

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Identity: Real – Ideal – Revised

I had not really thought much about my identity in Christ until our ladies retreat last year and I struggled with it. Satan was working HARD to block my understanding and interfere with the Holy Spirit working in my heart. Granted, I wasn’t much help either. Satan knows which buttons to push to draw my attention away from God and focus it on flesh and blood and the problems that can arise from bringing together different and strong personalities. 

When I was asked to speak at a local ladies ministry, I had a whole other message planned, but as usually happens, God changes those plans to meet His. I started thinking about identity. I gave the group a handout that said: “What is your identity?” Then I gave them three blanks to write down the first three things that popped into their mind, no matter what they were. No one was going to see it, unless they showed it to someone. Why don’t you try it?

Was it what you thought it would be? The first time I did this, I listed seven things. I had written identity at the top of the page and just listed the top things that popped into my head.

Ideal Identity

#1 Christian

#2 Wife

#3 Mother

#4 Sister

#5 Friend

#6 Writer

#7 Teacher

Then the Holy Spirit prompted me to go back and write IDEAL above the word Identity. Further prompting led me to make another list labeled “Real Identity” and just as quickly, I listed seven more things. 

Real Identity

#1 Complainer

#2 Gossiper

#3 Fear-filled

#4 Jealous

#5 Bitter

#6 Biter

#7 Secret Sinner

The first list is what I’d like for my life to say if I were asked who I was. But, deep down, it doesn’t. I might pretend that it does or tell others that this is my identity, but it’s my facade. The mask I wear to hide my real identity. Also, there were several things I wanted to cross off the second list because, surely, they weren’t true. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. It was a wake-up call, slap-in-the-face, now the ball is in your court, so what are you going to do about it, kind of moment.

 So, instead of ignoring it or running away (like I’d normally do) I’m showing it to you. I have purposed that I will be accountable TODAY. I have purposed that every day that God gives me, I will be accountable. I’ve spent a lot of time believing that I was being accountable, but I was only flirting with accountability. I was not truly committed (or married to it) if you will. 

So now I’ll ask, what’s YOUR real identity? You might not actively participate in gossip, but do you listen? Then you’re guilty. I didn’t realize how much I complained until my daughter made a joke and my husband agreed. She said “If you stopped complaining, we’d never hear from you again.” Ouch! That hurt. Do you let fear keep you from doing something you know God wants you to do? Are you jealous of others because they have the husband, job, house, kids, or whatever that you want in your life? Has that jealousy been simmering under the surface until it has become bitterness? Has that bitterness caused you to “bite” at others? Do you have secret sins in your life that you are desperate to hide from everyone? We all do. You are not alone. Write down anything God reveals to you now, and meditate on the question of what your real identity is.  Ask God to reveal to you what you need to do going forward.

Here’s an illustration: In all the superhero stories, there is a moment in which the hero’s identity is revealed to or realized by the hero.When this happens, their identity shifts. Their identity is no longer what it once was. It changed in light of the information they received, and that led to a decision they make. 

They choose to BE the hero. 

They have a brief moment of clarity in which they see that they can no longer live the life they’ve been living, because they have a higher calling. They sacrifice all they could have had, in order to be the hero. Philippians 3:8 says:

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” 

Relationships? Gone.  

Security? Gone.  

Money? Gone.  

Status? Gone.  

Health/ possibly even their Life? Gone.  

They count everything as less important than being the hero. They knowingly lay it ALL on the altar of sacrifice to do what only they can do. Be the hero. 

We don’t normally think of ourselves as heroes. Heroes are supposed to be great people who help others at their own expense. They usually have some kind of superpower that ordinary people don’t have that helps them to overcome the enemy. But we ARE heroes. If we have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord, we ARE the heroes the world is desperately looking for. 

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11

We have the superpower of the Holy Spirit within us to help us overcome our enemy the devil. 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 

But unlike the comic book heroes who mostly have alien or mutant abilities that can’t be recreated or transmitted to another person, our superpowers can be shared. And the more we share them, the stronger they get. 

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Being a hero is hard. It’s a thankless job most of the time since heroes are supposed to keep their real identity a secret. This secret is meant to protect the innocent. Their friends, family, and love-interests that could be used by the villain (in our case Satan) to weaken them or cause them to give up fighting and being the hero. However, it is the IDEAL identity that causes so much harm. Because it masks who the hero really is and doesn’t allow them to deal with their flaws. And anyone who has seen a superhero movie or read a hero story knows, ALL heros have one, if not more than one, fatal flaw that is likely to be their undoing.

So, as much as it hurts to see my flaws laid out and my REAL identity exposed, I am now able to deal with each of the flaws. I can present them to God, ask for forgiveness, and get help changing to be more like Christ. 

A verse that greatly impacted how I see my identity is 2 Corinthians 5:17. The New King James Version says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The Contemporary English Version says “Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.” What is my identity now? I’d probably write: 

Revised Identity 

#1 NEW

#2 FORGIVEN

#3 NOT FINISHED

#4 FREE IN CHRIST


Has your identity changed since you accepted Christ? Why or Why not? How has it changed? Despite how you feel, the Bible says that you are NEW, FORGIVEN, NOT FINISHED, and FREE in Christ. New because we have been washed clean and made pure again. I don’t know about you, but that meant the world to me. After feeling so dirty for so long, knowing that He washed me clean and made me pure again, was a blessing. Accepting that I was forgiven for all I had done was easier than accepting that I was forgiven for all I had yet to do. I wanted to live better and not sin so much, but that led me into a legalistic spiral of trying to “earn”it. I finally came to the realization that I am NOT FINISHED and therefore, I am not perfect — yet. I can’t judge myself, nor can I judge others, because we are ALL unfinished projects. Now I try to live free in Christ. Not taking grace for granted, but not shackling myself in legalism either.

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Who You Can Be

Who are you now? Is it who you thought you’d be? If not, why not? What is keeping you from being who you can be? It might be circumstances you can’t currently control, it might be God’s timing, or it might just be fear. Yes, sometimes we can be more afraid of greatness than of failing. It is then that we must choose courage. 

Living courageously is not easy and not for the faint of heart. As coined by Ambrose Redmoon and The Princess Diaries 

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now, you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be.”

This makes me think about Peter. Impetuous, immature, outspoken, combative Peter. His start wasn’t fabulous and Jesus had to leash and muzzle him on more than one occasion. However, for all his talk and bravado, even he was counted among the deserters at the time of Jesus’ betrayal. 

But God knew what manner of man Peter was and who he could be. 

For, even though Peter denied Him, Jesus knew that Peter was a leader and that he would return and encourage his brethren. Though in the beginning he was rough around the edges, Peter matured and participated in some of the most profound things ever recorded in the Bible. Walking on the water with Jesus, identifying Jesus as the Christ, the Transfiguration, preaching at Pentecost, even raising the dead! 

Many of Peter’s reactions, I’m convinced, were ultimately rooted in fear. Fear of not being in control, fear of inaction or indecision, or fear of failure. Courageously overcoming these fears was part of what transformed Peter into the great leader he became. He came to the understanding that Jesus had provided all we’d ever need and lived accordingly. 

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

If there was hope for him, then there is hope for me.

I can live courageously in the power of Jesus Christ and accomplish all that He has for me to do. I do not have to be afraid of failure or greatness, because He will be there guiding my every step. We are all traveling the road between who we are and who we can be. Choose your course and your guide wisely.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

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Fully Convinced

Do you believe that God is able to do whatever He promises?

If you do, are you living like you believe it? If someone polled your group of family and friends, would they say you do? If you don’t, why not? What is keeping you from living like you believe it? 

She lived fully convinced that 

God is able to do 

whatever He promises

I saw this quote on a friend’s Facebook page and I really liked it, but I also realized that I didn’t live like I believed it. I’ve been afraid to take big steps and dream big dreams. You know, the kind that require God to step in and make things happen?

Why? What am I afraid of? That people won’t like me? That I’ll mess up? So what? I probably will mess up. Knowing me, it’s almost guaranteed that I will trip or stumble over something. If (when) that happens, it doesn’t make God love me less. It doesn’t make me “less than” in any way. It just means that I am human. It might take me a few tries to get something right.

We don’t criticize babies for falling when they are learning to walk because they would become discouraged and probably never learn. Why then do we not apply that same principle to ourselves and others when we are learning something new?  

Who taught us to be afraid? 

Why are you discouraging yourself and others?

A little research will tell you that there are over 3000 promises in the Word of God. Some of them are blessings and some of them are consequences. To borrow from Beth Moore, 

God is who He says He is.

God can do what He says He can do.

I am who God says I am.

I can do all things through Christ.

God’s Word is alive and active in me. 

From now on, I am going to try to live like I believe God, not just believe in Him. Who knows how many I can convince to believe Him by convincing myself and living in a manner consistent with my beliefs.

“Being fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Romans 4:21, Hebrews 10:23

Follow Through

I don’t know about you, but it has been a rough couple of  weeks. Getting kids back in school, planning and carrying out a birthday party, traveling with a youth group to a weekend conference, and trying to put the house back together, all while operating on only about five hours of sleep per night has made it hard for me to follow through with my Bible study and writing schedule.

I’ve made myself a calendar to try to schedule my time so that I can follow through and meet deadlines but life hasn’t necessarily been helping me out. I’m also trying not to beat myself up too much that the Bible study I am currently working on hasn’t seen me in like two (or ten) days.

What is working in my life right now is getting to school on time, doing a short devotional each morning with my youngest daughter, and discussing how we can apply what the devotional says to our life. So, even though things are going according to my plan right now, doesn’t mean they’re not going according to God’s plan.

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT

I’ll get my wagon back on track and get into a rhythm again. I just have to keep on. And you can make it too. Don’t give up. RESOLVE to follow through. Even if there is only one thing you can follow through on, do it. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Just choose one thing and set yourself a short time frame.  

Want to start getting up and reading your Bible in the morning? The don’t bite off too much. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally would and set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier to wake up. Choose a book to start in and read just one chapter. If a chapter is too much, start with five verses and work your way up. Get a notebook and record whatever the Lord impresses upon your heart.

Ask: What is this verse telling me?

Apply: What can I do about it?

Reflect: What happened after I applied the verse to my life?

Or, if you feel like you need a little more structure and direction, find a devotional or Bible study to help guide your reading. 

Following through will become more second nature. We can do this. After all, our end goal is to become more like Jesus. That is a goal worth following through on.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

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