Who Are You?

Who are you? This isn’t just a song by The Who or the theme song to one of my favorite t.v. shows it’s a question we should be asking ourselves not just once but every day…sometimes multiple times a day. Why? Because while the core of you stays the same, who you are is ever changing. Just as where you are right now isn’t where you were five years ago, 6 months ago or even an hour ago who are now isn’t who you were before. 

We meet people, have conversations, encounter situations, have near misses or have accidents that all chip away at the veneer we so artistically and painstakingly put together to keep us safe and secure. Every once in awhile someone actually gets all the way through that veneer. That’s our moment of truth. Our fork in the road. Do I let them stay there? Do I allow who they are help shape me on a deeper level? Or do I quickly push them out and being the work of patching up the hole they created? 

Staying on the surface is so easy for us. Mainly because it’s comfortable and it gives us a reason to be able to say “nobody loves me”, “I’m so alone”, “Why don’t I have any friends?” Basically it’s an excuse to blame others for how things are turning out in our lives. About six years ago I was driving home from church school and I was hit with an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I began to think that I didn’t have any friends and that no one loved me. Logically I knew that wasn’t true but I was so in my feelings it took me days to get out of it.

To be honest this feeling of loneliness was always there as a low hum but it would get louder the closer it got to my birthday and the holidays. But instead of drawing closer and closer to God and others I became more and more withdrawn. I kept going to church and to work but day by day, year by year my thoughts became more of a comfort than spending time with God and with friends & family. I became a pro at faking fine not only with others but with myself. Everything came to a head towards the beginning of last year. It became harder and harder for me to get out of bed each morning. I went to work, did just enough and couldn’t wait to home and back to bed.

I was reading bible plans, listening to gospel music and listening to preaching. I was attending bible study and being taught the Word of God but every Sunday I would come to church and break down. Eventually I came to the end of myself and realized that something had to change. I called my doctor and got medication for depression & anxiety. I called a therapist to talk through things I should have dealt with a long time ago. But most importantly I continued to talk to God. Bit by bit I began to become more like myself. I began to laugh again. I began to have the desire to help out in church again and my desire to write came back. 

However, I still found myself asking who I was and what He wanted from me. This question of identity is something a lot of people struggle with regardless of age, race or gender. I believe that’s why God is constantly telling us how much He loves us. I recently had a conversation with my brother that I’ll admit was hard to have but it was necessary. He challenged me to accept that God loves me. Accept that I am worthy of love. Accept that I am more precious than diamonds. Accept that Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was not for me to just exist. Accept that my life has meaning and a purpose. Accept that I am a child of God and I challenge you to do the same. After that conversation, I went and saw the movie Overcomer. One of the characters was asked to read Ephesians 1 and 2 and write down all the things that God says we are. I decided to read it and discovered that He says I am chosen, I am loved, I am holy without blame, I am adopted. He takes pleasure in me. I am accepted. I am redeemed. And that’s just in the first seven verses of chapter 1. But here’s the thing these statements don’t just apply to me. God’s word applies to everyone who chooses to believe it and that includes you. 

I intend to live with these words in my heart. What about you?

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There is a scripture in the book of Daniel that I constantly mull over time and time again. To me this scripture defines the entire book but it should also define our lives as Christians. The scripture is Daniel 1:8 which talks about Daniel making the decision not to defile himself with the king’s food and wine. I actually wrote another post about this in 2016 but I can’t seem to let it go.

So much of who we are in God starts with a decision. Are we going to allow God to be our Lord and savior? That’s the first big decision we have to make. Giving God our heart meas we understand that we are sinners desperately in need of a savior. Someone who can not only take away our sin but also provide the guidance needed to walk a life filled with purpose. Which brings me to the next question. Are we going to allow God to reshape us? Allowing God to save us isn’t the only life transforming thing that God wants to do for us. He wants to continually remove what is in us that are not reflective of Him. He wants to give us His peace, joy, grace & mercy. And not just for us to live a better life but also for us to extend that same joy, peace, grace & mercy to others as well. Our lives should be lived past the four walls of where we live, work or attend church. Our lives, just as God’s love, should have no borders.

So let’s get back to Daniel. I’m pretty sure his resolve started long before being a captive in Babylon. He was already a man of great character. Hardworking and teachable. He had to exhibit these traits prior to exile otherwise he wouldn’t have been chosen as one of the children to stand in the king’s palace. And it wasn’t just Daniel who made the decision to be a man of character. He had friends who made that decision early in life as well. I just finished a bible plan focusing on associations-the people we hang with. It got me thinking about where I spend my time and who I spend it with which  leads me to another decision we have to make. Are we going to allow God to lead us to the people we should have in our lives? Are we going to pay attention to the unsettling feeling we get about someone or some place? Or sometimes the feeling isn’t unsettling but there is an instant connection and sense of ease that tells us “this is right”. The point is regardless of the feeling, unsettling or instant connection, we should pray to God for direction.

Once again back to Daniel and his friends. Before captivity they constantly talked to God and during captivity they continued their conversations. Because of their conversations with God Daniel understood that the decree not to pray to anyone but the king was a trap. Daniel continued to pray just as he had always done. Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego knew it was wrong to worship other Gods and never bowed to the image of Nebucadnezzar. Their resolve almost cost them their lives but they held fast to their decision to worship the one true God and allow Him to lead & guide them.

Because of that Nebuchadnezzar came to believe in God and made a decree that others in the kingdom believe as well. Three teenage boys made resolution to follow God which lead a king and a nation to believe.

What will your resolve lead others to believe about you and most importantly about God?

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Make It Plain

I have a confession to make. I have a problem with procrastinating. In fact writing this post took me longer than it should because of this problem. And while this may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things it actually is a big deal. Procrastination by definition is the act of delaying or postponing something. Putting off or not being able to make decisions, in my opinion, is a symptom of something greater.

When we don’t see what our future could be we put off doing what we should be doing. How often do we spend time playing a game on our phone instead of cleaning the house? Or stand around talking to co-workers instead of getting your work done? Or hanging out with friends instead of studying? None of these things in moderation are bad but what most often happens is that they tend to draw our attention away from the important items in our life and if they become too important they will stagnate us and leave us stranded. This lack of vision is what kept most of the Israelite’s from reaching the promised land.

Moses sent 12 men – one from each of the tribes – to scope out the land. All but two of them came back saying that the giants in the land were too numerous for them to overtake. They didn’t believe the vision that God had already given them. Sound familiar? We get so focused on what we see we forget the dreams God has placed in our hearts. And why do we forget? Because we never take the time to write out what God has promised us.

God told Habakkuk in the second chapter to write the vision and make it plain as a direct response to questions posed to God by Habakkuk. Habakkuk wanted to know why God wasn’t hearing him. God’s direct response to that question was to have Habakkuk write down the vision He was about to give him. God followed that up by telling him that the vision wasn’t going to come to fruition right away.  How many times have we asked God the purpose of our lives only for Him to say “here is your vision, write it down, but wait.”

Remember the movie you wanted to write? Remember the house you dreamed of having? Remember the relationship you wanted restored? God gives us visions not to taunt us but to show us His glory. And then in His wisdom He doesn’t allow them to manifest to remind us that He is God and that He is in control of all things. But that doesn’t mean we need to let go of our vision. That vision should be used as fuel during the times when it seems that nothing is happening. When we are doing the mundane ordinary things of life…changing diapers, washing clothes, cooking dinner.

Just as a seed needs time to grow those times of ordinary are used to cultivate the vision and prepare us for the time of harvest. Once we realize what that ordinary time of life if for we can do what Habakkuk did…Pray and Praise God.

So think about the vision you’ve been given. Have you taken the time to write it down and make it plain?

Then the Lord answered me and said “Write the vision and engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets. So that the one who reads it will run. For the vision is yet for an appointed [future] time; It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail. Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it, Because it will certainly come; it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2: 2-3 AMP)

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