Showing posts from October, 2015

A Thousand Different Ways

About a month ago I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Texas with friends to visit another one of our girlfriends who had recently moved there with her family in the past year. It was an unprecedented trip for me - to come away from normal responsibilities, enjoy the company of good friends, and have new experiences in a different context was a true gift.

While there we toured and stayed at the camp that our friend and her family now work at, Laity Lodge. We wanted to get a glimpse of their life and ministry.  We knew it would be a blessing to her to see her new life, and would also be a blessing to us just to see how another camp functions and ministers. Laity Lodge, located within a beautiful canyon, is separated into three distinct facilities: a youth camp, an adult retreat facility, and a family camp.  

While touring the adult retreat center, I was so moved by what I experienced. The facility was beautiful inside and out - green lush paths set deep down in winding cobbled walkw…

A shift in gears

There may only be a handful of eyes that grace this space but, regardless of the number, I thought I should probably communicate that I've intentionally decided to stop participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge. It is truly a wonderful challenge that spurs writers on to create a daily habit of writing and has helped me in the past in many ways. About a week in, however, I realized two reasons I needed to stop.

First, I noticed that I was beginning to feel pressure simply to get a post written, instead of truly developing the Bible study I set out to write. I want to take my time in reading, researching, praying, and questioning others as I pull together the study I have in mind. So I'll be doing this on my own, not in a public platform for now.

Secondly, God has continued to spur me on in the area of songwriting this fall in a way that has caused me to spend more focused time and attention in developing this part of my writing. I decided I don't want to go against that …

In Christ I am Secure

In Christ, I am secure.  So what does that mean?  It means that if the Spirit has set me free and is residing within me, then He is holding onto me - He is preserving me. He is keeping me by His grace.  

Our eternal security was bought and paid for by the blood of Christ - a payment that covers every ounce of sin and shame and struggle and failure, past, present and future. For those who have come, admitted their guilt and depravity, and who have said "Yes!" to the saving work of Christ, there is no longer any condemnation and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. 

But it doesn't feel perfect.  It's not by our grit and strength that we are secure.It's easy-(er?) to believe we are secure as it pertains to our justification...the moment when Christ, in one single moment of saving faith, makes us right with God. 

But believing His saving work in us through a lifetime of sanctification, (that process of making us more like Him), is more difficult, and yet we&…

In Christ I am Loved

You and I are loved. Loved beyond understanding, loved unconditionally, loved eternally, loved by a gracious, just, relational God.  He has bent down low to show us His love.  
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." His love was evidenced by the fact that He gave us His Son JesusHis love made a way for our eternal lifeHis love compels us to believe in His Son for salvation
Romans 5:8 "But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." His love was shown (evidenced, demonstrated, displayed)Even when we had nothing to give, nothing to show for, no reciprocal love for Him, Jesus laid down His life in our place
I John 4:10 "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 
Love is, loving someone before they even care to love or reach out to youThis is the kind of lo…

In Christ I am Known

Last spring I wrote a post here for (in)courage about my husband's and my transition to a new life and community. I shared about my desire to be known and how God showed me Himself in the process and how He graciously also provided community over time.

There's a common thread of a desire to be known among us. Sometimes it's a simple desire to go "where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came" the old Cheers sitcom so rightly nailed on the head. We desire a sense of belonging among people who know us, quirks, imperfections and all.
Interestingly, the age of internet has brought upon us a new way to be known. We currate pictures, posts, pinboards, profiles, tweets, and instagrams to interact with an online community. In many ways, this has forged some incredible communities of people, sharing stories and relating in our common human struggles and joys.

But sometimes the ease of that community tempts us to accept a veneer of being known thr…

In Christ I am Seen

There's something in each of us that desires to be seen, to be noticed. I'm not talking about the center stage here. I'm not talking about being the flashy storyteller at a party. I'm talking about a deeper seen. Because even if you like to blend into the background and not have extra attention drawn to you by a crowd, there's something in us that at the very least wants to know that someone sees us in our pain, difficulty, frustration and heartache. We wonder, does anyone even know, even care?

I have had many periods where I feel as though not a person in my life fully sees and understands the recesses of my heart, my situation, my pain. And it's then that I hold onto the truth that there is One who always sees me. Hagar, Abraham's mistress had a similar experience. Now, it's clear that this is a complicated situation. It's true that in not trusting God, Abraham took matters into his own hands and created a bit of a family mess by having a son throu…

In Christ I Have Value

So far, I've touched on who we are without Christ, as well as some of the common ways we attempt to misplace our identity. Today, and for the remainder of the month, I'll be speaking to who we are in Christ. 

The wonderful, amazing truth is that we have a Maker and He has placed value on us. Slowly read the following passage. I say slowly, because it may be familiar to many of you. Let the truth of God's purpose and care in creating you soak in. You were not a haphazard arrival to this world. You were not an afterthought thought. You were planned, created in secret and brought forth for God's glory. All before you could even speak a word or make a decision. What a wonder!

Plsalm 139:13-16
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the dep…

Mistaken Identity: Parenting

From my experience as a mom and from hearing from other mom friends I have gathered that it is extremely tempting to attach our identity to our children and through our parenting. 

What might it look like if we are staking our identity in our parenting?

-we attempt to control our children
-we are easily discouraged by our children's mistakes/failures
-we compare ourselves to other parents/our children to other children
-we make parenting decisions based on how it makes us look
-we allow our day to be "ruined" by our kids choices/behavior
-we uselanguage about our personhood such as, "I'm such a horrible mom", "I'm the worst mom ever", and "I'm messing up my kids"

Why are we tempted to do this?

When we spend large amounts of energy, attention and care on any area of our lives, there is a temptation to highly value the outcome of those efforts. Naturally we want our actions to produce results. We want it to "count" for something. 

Mistaken Identity: Possessions

The pressure and temptation to keep up with the latest and greatest is no longer confined to the Joneses down the street. Social media and  the internet in general has boomed in amazing ways in the past ten years.  That, in itself, is not a negative statement - it's simply factual. But that fact has implications on how we view possessions. To the degree that we are online, we are bombarded with images either of 

what we should have what others have or why we shouldn't be content anymore with what we currently have. 
And while those are not new marketing strategies for companies and brands all around - It's something we can't deny about social media. Even the passing of neutral information, (pictures of another family's vacation, your friend's new car, a kitchen remodel on that blog you follow, so-and-so's adorable cute outfit in that latest selfie and the list goes on...), can seep into our hearts as seeds of discontent and mis-identification - if we let them…

Mistaken Identity: Accomplishments & Performance

Yesterday I wrote about mistaken identity in the opinions of others. Dovetailing out of that is the trap of finding our identity in performance and accomplishments.  And it doesn't take much for this to transpire, right?  I'll have one day where I'm up early, showered before taking the kids to school, flying high with my attitude, and breezing through my check-list like a crazy fool.  On another day I might be sluggishly pulling myself out of bed, dreading the mountains ahead, and struggling to manage to get a decent supper on the table for my family.  You can take a wild guess on which day I feel the best about myself, right? 

Oh you too?  

There's this drive in us to feel the need to prove ourselves, make a mark on our day, our sphere, our little worlds.  I admit to being a bit task-oriented by nature, but being a mom has been kicking that out of me little by little, (another post all together...). But even if you don't feel a strong pull to check off to-do lists, …

Mistaken Identity: The Opinion of Others

Yesterday I gave some groundwork in this study for who we are without Christ.  For the next couple days I'll be talking about common places we misplace our identity.

I recently had the opportunity to speak for a women's event at the camp we serve at.  I enjoy teaching, and speaking in front of people is not necessarily new to me, but as the day drew nearer and nearer I could feel myself becoming more and more anxious.  I had prepared as well as I could, I had been praying and others were praying for me. A little nerves are normal, but still, the reality of getting up in front of others, sharing vulnerably in word and song, and seeking to teach from God's Word had become a mental and physical battle. I was shaking in my boots at the thought of being evaluated by people in the things that I would do and say.

Can you think of a time when you had a similar experience?

When we believe what others say about us, whether real or feared, above what God says to be true of us, we are st…

Without Christ

If you're like me, hard words make you uncomfortable. Even truthful ones.  I'm tempted to skip ahead to the good part - the resolution - the solution to a problem. Whether I have to communicate the hard words or receive them, the discomfort is there.  And it's especially difficult when the truths involve people.  Even this study on our identity tempts us to rush ahead in the same way. 

Do you agree? If so, why you feel it's generally difficult to receive and speak difficult words?  Is one easier for you than the other (to speak or receive)?

So before we dig into the promises of who we are in Christ, we must first back up and come to terms with who we are without Him. Because how can we understand the depth of His love, grace and transferred identity, if we do not fully grasp the utter depravity and deep despair we have without Him? 

According to God's Word, without Him we:

Are dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1-3)"And you were dead in the trespasses and sinsin which …

Identity in Christ: 31 Days Writing Challenge

When we misplace our identity - it leads us to hollow living and empty striving . When I start to feel that familiar feeling creep into my soul, I ask myself these questions, "Where have I been projecting my identity lately?", and "What does the gospel say about Christ satisfying these misplaced desires"?When I choose to believe God's promises of who He says I am, the strongholds of fear, doubt, pride, false idols and other sin struggles are revealed for the lies they are. And that cycle to truth, is set on repeat until the day we die.
This month I'll be joining in on the annual 31 Days Writing Challenge for the month of October. I'm using this opportunity for two reasons. First, for my own personal study and continued journey to a Christ-founded identity. Secondly, I have been wanting to write a Bible study exploring this very issue. Ultimately, I am writing this content to be used in the future for a mom's ministry group at my church. However, the …