Identity Crisis Anyone: 4 Truths to Set You Free

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The most profound question and struggle a human being can have may lie in the question of personal worth and identity.   The answer isn’t as complicated as the question. But we must be willing to accept the answer in order to live in it and walk in it.

I was raised in a very loving home. I never doubted my parents love for me or worth in my family. However, I was immersed in a culture that praised women more for the size of their chest and hip size than their character. I am Latina (I guess that’s the term we use now-a-days). I grew up with rich Latin roots on a Southwest border believing that the whole world was Mexican-American. I write that as I laugh, sigh and shake my head.

But the culture I grew up in, outside my home contradicted very much the core values of my family’s beliefs and yet those are the ones I grew to believe.

I was worth only the value men but on my beauty, which included my body’s size and measurements (every inch).

I guess times haven’t changed much. No matter which culture we are talking about or which door we walk out of or whether we are male or female; the message is the same, you’re only worth it if…

Some people grow up with their personal value equated to their intelligence, success in life, career, college acceptance, talents, knowledge, awards, rank, abilities.

Before we define worth we need the presence of an alternative to the things we put on alters, like looks, intelligence, success, careers etc. I want to present one of my favorite verses but less often dissected. It is God’s love letter to humanity and the most profound pieces of Hebrew poetry.

Read: Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV). Any other version will suffice.

“For you created my inmost being.” v.13

Created in Hebrew means to possess or to buy also redeem. Interesting, if you think about it. How you could be the creator of something and than be the redeemer also.

God’s claim is that not only did He create us he also paid our debt for sin at the cross by sending His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to die in place of us.

I bet if Leonardo Di Vinci was alive today he’d pay his highest dollar to get the Mona Lisa back.

“you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” v.13b

“Knit” in Hebrew means to cover as to protect. The blood of sacrificial animals in ancient Jewish culture carried the weight of a protective barrier from sin and a covering from the harsh consequences from committing sin.

God makes the claim in the New Testament that Jesus is our covering. This verse shows that God’s plan has always been, even from the womb, to be our covering and protector. Oh! If only we’d let him. I spent many years fighting against God, living my way, diving deeper and deeper away from the protection he so wanted to give me.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;” v.14

Fearfully in Hebrew means ‘to morally revere’ and wonderfully means to ‘set apart’; ‘distinguished’

Our God, the creator of this world, of all humanity has created us to be morally revered and yet we spend most our lives degrading ourselves for the sake of elevating ourselves or wallowing in self-pity by torturing ourselves. The plan was to create people with moral value worthy of respect and reverence.

What has happened to humanity? We all demand, crave respect from others. The question is do we respect ourselves?

If we truly understood the concept of being fearfully and wonderfully made than Women’s Marches wouldn’t happen. We wouldn’t have to. We’d come to terms with the terms God set before our time began to tick on this earth, in the womb. We could actually conceive the hard truth that we have no rights in light of God’s hand in creation. We made nothing, we created nothing, we are owed nothing. We exist because He loves us and when there is life growing in a woman’s womb it is because He put it there.  Regardless of the circumstances.  Or as a counselor and friend once posed this question, how did Jesus come into the world?  Poor. During political upheaval. By an unwed mother. Born in a dirty manger.  And a death warrant on his back.

Did God stop it? Did Mary wish for an abortion if it were possible?

Time ticks at the rub of His fingers tips and the breath he breathes into us. Who are we to take it away?

God works ALL things out for good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28. Just stop worrying about the circumstances.  If you aren’t feelin’ the good you might not be lovin or just haven’t waited long enough.

“My frame was not hidden from you” v. 15

Frame means “bones, power, might.”

Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and self control.

God didn’t make a blue print for weaklings, or wimps. He created us to be strong bodied and strong minded. He gave us a strong body and a strong spirit to boot.

It is easier to be overcome with fear in fearful situations and yet he gave us a spirit to withstand the storms of life. He gave us bones powerful enough to take the bumps and bruises in the journey of life. He also had our spirit in mind. Love is one of the hardest things to give when the situation calls for hate or indifference and yet he has equipped humanity to love through it. He gave us the capacity to control ourselves when everything inside us calls to indulge in the matter at hand. Indulge in the identity that beckons us that calls us away at the true worth that God has already given us.  What power He has bestowed on us! If we would only use it what a different world, neighborhood we would live in.

“when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. “v. 15b

The term woven is also written “skillfully wrought” (NKJV) and means to ‘variegate’ or ‘mix colors’.

If we pay attention to that word in Hebrew we can see a skilled artesian at work mixing colors on fabric, a masterpiece of genius. What truth for such a time like this!

In America we see black, white, and brown and some variations in between, nothing more. Yet when the creator went to work He mixed beautiful colors. Color is not our idea it was God’s. When we see ‘white’ He sees color, when we see ‘brown’, He sees color, when we see ‘black’ He sees color. We judge acts based on color. We don’t see past a man’s color to arrive at character. We let acts and color go hand and hand. We equate color with character. And on the flip side we let color define us.

Let them stand separate.

Let character speak for character, and color be what it is: God’s mark on humanity.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body (literally ‘embryo’; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” v.16

Ordained means ‘predetermined’. I know this freaks people out but the truth is our days are numbered. If you are written in His book that’s a good thing and if you’re not well ,that could be a bad thing.  Just remember the title of this blog: Simple Truths.  Sometimes we could exchange the word simple for hard. Nonetheless they are the same for everyone even those that turn there eyes and hearts away and those that embrace it.

Here’s an illustration to help you understand how He ordains our days and how that mixes with our identity.

When I was seventeen I had a drama teacher who also read tarot cards for fun. Not quite sure you can call that fun if you’re reading someone’s “lifeline”. I was a Christian but I wanted to see what the big deal was and to prove to my friends that she wouldn’t be able to “see” anything on my life because I was a “Christian”.  I called myself even though I wasn’t a Christ-follower, which is much different. The word Christian is a title, being a Christ-follower is an action. It is something you live out. A lifestyle.

So, nonetheless I had my cards and palms read. And boy was I in for a shocker. She not only saw people in my life that she had never met nor had any of my friends met but she revealed that my lifeline was short. By short she meant I would die in my early 20’s. I brushed that in back of my mind for a good long while until I could escape that idea and pretend as though it had no power.

As life went out I distanced myself further from God. By the time I was 22 I had been married, divorced, miscarried twins, moved 5 different times to escape the reality of being divorced.

When I was finally tired of running I gave my life back to the Lord. On the night I gave my life back to Him it was New Year’s Eve night. Two close friends had invited me out that night. They were cousins. I chose not to go that night I had business with God that night. I received a tearful call the next morning from my friend who told me how thankful she was glad that I hadn’t gone out with them. They had been drinking and the car had plummeted 60 feet off a Texas free way. The car broke completely in half with back seat severed. The police was in shock. He told them that if there had been anyone in the back seat they wouldn’t have died. They always rode in the front together everyone else in the back. They were family. It was a given that night would have been no different. I was 23.

When I heard that news I knew that the cards that were read about me were true. The thing is they can’t see what happens after you accept Jesus Christ in your life. They can see the darkness in your life but they can’t see light.  Jesus said that He came to this world so that anyone who believed in Him would not remain in darkness John 12:46. I am now 36 and I survived death’s hunt on my life.

The night I accepted Jesus into my life my name was written in His book. I defied death that night because my Savior covered me. My days were ordained my Him.

My worth is no longer in what I could’ve been, who I was or even what I do. My worth and identity are now in that:

1. He knew me before I was placed in my mother’s womb and He knows me still.

2. He created me. He made me and morally reveres me and set me apart therefore

I am His.

3.  He gave me a plan and a purpose and time to accomplish it. v.16

4. He died for me. He didn’t give me what I deserve He took it instead.

How does Psalm 139 speak to you?   What parts speak loudly to you at this time?

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The Upside of Conflict:7 Ways to Look at Your Next Disagreement

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So, here’s the thing with conflict, I hate it.  It makes me uncomfortable mainly because I am awkward with it. I want to talk my feelings out and I know most people are not good with that mainly my husband.  I usually have no filter when talking my feelings out because I feel that communication is good therapy, again not everyone agrees.

I mostly hate conflict because I see it as a negative, I usually want to run and hide from it. I don’t like to face it head on because I know I can be a bulldozer when I really want to be a sweet, gentle little lamb.

Let’s define conflict, it’s a noun and it’s also a verb.  As a noun it is a sharp disagreement but as a verb its to be{come} incompatible (according to dictionary.com) It can easily stay a noun but depending on your personality (not mentioning any names) it can quickly climb to verb status.  I am gonna be more real here than when I mentioned my shoe addiction, obsession, habit {denial:} It’s gonna hurt my pride but it has to be done.

As I moved from South to North East I realized the stark difference in “Christianity”.  I am having to come to terms with what God’s people really look like.  Why! I thought they all looked just like me! HAHA not really.  Does this sound familiar?  I’ll admit quickly that mercy is not high on my spiritual gifts and yet it isn’t an option.  I’ve been stuck in a theological bubble for a really long time, not a bad thing when you’re growing and learning God’s word but at some point you’re going to meet other Christians who don’t really believe like you do theologically or practice their faith like you do and yet God still loves them.

When I took my Meyers Briggs personality test there was a big fat J at the end of my letters. (Gotta take the test to know) If you don’t know what the big fat J is it’s for judger. Well, it’s true. I am.  I hate to admit that but I know I am not alone.  This isn’t just a confession it’s also a challenge for you reading this where ever you’re from (North, South, West, where ever!); we all got some judgement genes.  No one’s immune, not if your democrat, republican, poor, rich, a minority or not, judgement comes in all shapes, sizes, political platforms and the best bible study groups.

And so moving here has not just been a mission trip of sorts but a seminary class on the subject of love and acceptance.

At the root of conflict is difference, not bad but when not kept in check it can escalate to  judgement and pride. I’ll show you what I mean. Let’s take one of the most godly people in the bible, Paul and his best bud Barnabas and let’s dissect the disagreement they had that was apparently note worthy for Luke to mention (the writer of Acts) or else we wouldn’t be reading it today;)

Read: Acts. 15:36:41

Paul and Barnabas agreed on the most important part, their mission together: to visit other Christians in the towns they had preached to and encourage them.  But when it came to the details Luke notes that they disagreed sharply. In Hebrew the word is ‘irritation’.  Conflict arose because they had a difference of  opinion that resulted in irritation.

Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. Acts 15:37-38

At this point in the passage there is a crossroad.  Paul could’ve A.) agree with Barnabas (that’s called a stuffer, stuff your feelings and go with the flow…totally not encouraged;) B.) disagree but submit his will to Barnabas and take Mark anyway (or vice versa) but I mention Paul because he is the beloved Apostle and our fearless leader. C.) Disagree, sharply (apparently), tell him your point of view, be logical in the situation and break away from the situation.

Paul was obviously the logical one in the relationship (not bad, just different), Barnabas was the one who could overlook flaws. Maybe he was an enabler (I don’t know!!!) but he was willing to overlook what happened in Pamphylia and welcome him back into the circle of friends.

The point is this, yes there was conflict and scripture doesn’t reprimand either man for the conflict that took place.  The point of the conflict is for us to see God’s greater plan at work even in this.  When we study scripture we can find countless passages on dealing with difficult people.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you Eph. 4:32

Maybe Paul felt it wise not to proceed with Mark because he’d hold them back from the real mission God called them too.  Maybe, that was his way of keeping peace by going his own way.  I don’t know!!! But friends separated, opinions were voiced, different paths were taken.

But because God’s purpose in our life and mercy is so much greater than our messes and stupidity and foot-shaped mouths there can always be a turn around like in the case of Paul, Barnabas and yes, even Mark.  Happy Endings are God’s idea.

We see this turn around in 2 Timothy 4:11b.

…Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.

Paul’s heart softened towards Mark.  The book of Timothy marks Paul’s last words and with this small statement we can conclude that there was much growth since the first remark Paul made about Mark.  Both men has grown in the faith and love for one another.

Here’s the take home, conflict hurts but we can have a different perspective next time it occurs, as in we can keep the conflict a noun, something that occurred but keep it from {be}coming a verb, incompatible. Cause who likes incompatible people anyway?

During your next disagreement remember the outcome that is possible in Christ; keep your mind on these seven:

  1. Reconciliation.  We say separate, He says reconcile.

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”

I know a little about this because you know the last article I wrote about, the one about my husband leaving me,  well, the turn around on that story is that 3 years later we were reconciled and married again. Long story, that’s for another blog post but in the end God won and he is still winning in our marriage after 13 years.

2. Hope.

We have real hope in Jesus. When I was newly divorced I had heard a story about a wife that was left by her husband for drugs, women, and the night life but she remained faithful and prayed for him for seven years.  Now, he is a renown evangelist who loves Jesus and his wife.  Because of their story I had hope to pray for my husband. Although I didn’t expect or want reconciliation at that time I prayed for peace and salvation. We always hope that conflict can have a positive outcome.

3. Keep your eyes UP.

We shouldn’t stop doing God’s will or living out His purpose simply because we’ve hit a rough spot in our road of life.  Had Paul stumbled on his way and given up his purpose we wouldn’t have most of the New Testament. Paul went on to write 10 books of the New Testament (indisputably).

He went through Syria and Cilicia strengthening the churches. Acts 15:41

So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. Acts 16:5

Separation can be used for good in God’s economy. When Christians divide we can spread God’s love more abundantly and thoroughly.  God uses that time to strategize on spreading his Word by using His people even when they are in the midst of conflict…if we let Him.

Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus. Acts 15:39b

4. A softened heart.

At the end of Paul’s journey in Timothy we see Paul’s heart towards Mark changed and softened to the point he wanted Mark with him because he had been helpful in his journey. God had a chance to work on Paul’s heart.  Paul gained hind sight and perspective on the loss of a brother in the work of God.

God has a way of doing that.  The last words my {ex} husband told me was that he wasn’t in love with me.  In the 3 years that we were apart God had radically changed his heart. My husband’s heart not only softened towards me but I became the woman of his dreams, not because of anything I had done but because of the time we had spent alone with the Lord.

5. Stronger Relationship(s).

Not only did God restore the relationship between Mark and Paul; we see their relationship stronger than in the beginning of their journey together.  Paul is now requesting for Mark to be by his side for the last stretch of his mission.

A few years ago I sat on a ministry team where there were many differences of opinions.  Nothing revolutionary when you get a bunch of women together;) At one of our meetings our mission was side tracked due to confusion about the mission and the passion some of us had for a different direction. The team was in trouble.  One of the women on the team said that conflict thickens relationships.  I was hoping she was right.  I liked the team I was on and I wanted more than anything for there to be resolution and for us to get back on track on the main mission of the team.  It never happened.  The team dissolved, feelings were hurt and relationships broken.  The leader moved away, many of the ones left behind had some issues to resolve on their own and many were hurt long after the team broke up.  Although the leader of the team never got to experience the “thickening” she talked to me about the rest of us did because we were willing to stick it out and not quit. We didn’t leave church, we stuck to the mission He gave all of us and were willing to love.

6. Spiritual Growth.

It’s obvious from this story that everyone grew not only in age but spiritually.  This doesn’t always happen after conflict.  Conflict often leaves us angry, disillusioned, sad, broken, separated, and scarred but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Conflict can make us stronger in our walk with God and mature us enough to handle the next big things in life.

As the years go by with my man I realize there are things we can handle easier now than we could’ve in the past.  We realize we can’t make our relationship work on our will, we need God. Remember his last words to me? Funny how God always has the last laugh!! Marriage is hard and every year can make us stronger not weaker but we need Jesus.

7. Love.

We can agree to disagree agreeably.  Disagreement doesn’t have to mean hate.  Disagreement doesn’t have to mean incompatibility.  We can disagree and love at the same time.  We disagree and agree to act loving any way.  Love doesn’t equate agreeing.  When Jesus came to earth it wasn’t because He agreed with us, on contrary, He came because He disagreed with the darkness we were living in and came to rescue us from it.  Conflict can lead to love if we let it.  More than ever our country needs to realize this truth. Christian, we can love and disagree, remember it’s the thing that sets up apart.

The challenge here is to choose the 7 outcomes of conflict.  When our perspective changes we can begin to see past the yuk of conflict.

 

 

Main Mission of The Church: Why does it matter to me

fzv8esa7gkc-lee-key-2Read Acts 1 on your own. (should take about 3 min. or less)

The first simple truth we learn is that Jesus is still alive (v.3)!! Physically gone, spiritually present.

He leaves his disciples a mission before he died, to spread the gospel (Matt. 28:19).  The book of Acts is a continuation of this command,  it is a book about the acts of God during the formation of the 1st body of believers after Jesus ascends to heaven, the essentials of the 1st church and an example to us within the body.

Truth 1: Meeting together is essential.

Church was God’s idea (not mans), being part of a church was Jesus’ hope for us.

Doing the ‘Christian thing’ is part of a unity that can not be substituted with anything else.  Is it a sin not to go to church? Absolutely not! But we are better together.  The church is a place to grow, to be sharpened (yes, the uncomfortable blending and mixing of different and difficult personalities) and to do the spiritual things that can only be done in groups.  There is a reason Jesus chose 12.  There is credibility in numbers, there is accountability in numbers, there is unity and strength in numbers. Different personalities,  weather complementary or clashing, that was God’s plan and when you’re missing it isn’t the same.

Truth 2: The discipline of prayer is essential.

What is your prayer life like?  I know I can’t say I am in constant prayer like his faithful few  in v. 14.  But in order for us to grow and to hear the Holy Spirit (referred to as The Advocate by Jesus in John 15:26) we must pray (more on that later).

Truth 3: The main mission of every church and every believer is to spread the good news about Jesus.

Jesus came to tell people that He loved them and that there is way to forgiveness, a rescue and savior from their sins.  He wants to us to carry on that message (per the commission given by Jesus in Matt 28:19 and the words he told Peter in John 21:17).

“…Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:17

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and surely, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matt. 28:19-20

  1. Where do you stand with the church?  Do you attend church?  What are you thoughts on church?
  2. What is your prayer life like?  On a scale from 1 to 10 where are you? (1 do not pray at all, 10 I pray constantly)
  3. In what ways does the commission given to the disciples effect you?  Is it still relevant today?