Identity Crisis

 

When Moses was on the mountain talking to God, who was in the form of a burning bush, Moses asked who he should say had sent him with a message to Israel. God answered:

 Exo 3:14 And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM.

Wow! What an incredible sense of identity!

I have always struggled with the issue of “self”. As a “people pleaser”, I have always tried to accommodate other’s; have always “adapted” myself to the person(s) or situation. I was an internal “shape shifter”. I tried very hard to be the daughter, wife, mother, friend, employee, and Christian that I thought everyone, including God,  wanted me to be. I built my life around what I could do and be for others.

Image result for copyright free images of identity crisis tomato

When the world of my life collapsed around me, my life changed drastically, and I lost all the identities in which I had been living. I was no longer a wife. My children had left home so I was no longer a parent. I lost my home so I was no longer a home-maker. I had to move away so I was no longer a member of my community, a neighbour or a friend. And I had to leave my church and my ministry so I was no longer a leader.

I felt cast adrift and completely lost.

After a while, I decided to try to make the best of the situation by taking the time to try and figure out who I really was inside and who I wanted to be. I wish that I could say that I had an epiphany and got it all figured out – but I didn’t.

However, I was greatly helped when I discovered a list of verses from the Bible which outlined the Truth of who and what I am in Jesus Christ. Here is a list of  “I AM” statements from Neil Anderson’s “Living Free in Christ”:

Image result for who i am in christ

I think that I should print this list and stick it somewhere I can read it every day in hopes that it might finally sink into this thick skull of mine!

I pray that we all will stop carrying around false ID!

Blessings

 

Father’s Day re-blog

 

 

I was going to write about Father’s Day today when I realized that everything I had wanted to say, I had already said in last year’s post on Father’s Day. So here is the link to last year’s post: Father’s Day

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY 🙂

Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 

Col 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they be discouraged. 

Eph 6:4 And fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

(Image from fathersdayprintables.com)

 

Striving vs. Living

Image result for image of striving

Strive: 1. To make efforts; to use exertions; to endeavor with earnestness; to labor hard; applicable to exertions of body or mind. (Merriam Webster Dictionary 1828)

I think that I have spent a good part of my life striving – striving to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good wife, a good mother, a good neighbour, a good friend, a good employee, a good member of society, a good church member. I definitely strove to be a “good” Christian. I worked VERY hard at trying to please God – at least, striving for what I thought would please God.

Unfortunately, I never felt like my striving was enough – for anybody – especially God. The more I strove the more defeated and condemned I felt. The more striving I did, the less living I enjoyed.

This inner conflict was made worse by the fact that I was attending, what I now realize was, a very legalistic church. My “spiritual” life at that time seemed to be made up of a lot of “can’t do this” and “shouldn’t do that’s”. One would think that as a type “A” perfectionist personality, that type of living, all kinds of black and white rules, would suit me well. In reality, all it did was make me ever more conscious of the fact that, no matter how hard I  strove, I couldn’t do any of it on a consistent basis. That made me feel like there was no way I would ever be “good enough” for God, which in turn caused me to feel condemned and defeated. I eventually left that denomination.

My first breakthrough in this battle came after pouring out my concerns to a pastor from a home fellowship that I had started attending. He advised me that when I read the Bible, to take any verse that described who and what we are , and what we have in Jesus Christ, and make it personal and put “I am” into the verse.

For example:

Rom 3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; 

To get that into my thick skull, I would insert “I have been” justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;

Note to self – I have been justified (made righteous before God) by God’s grace through my faith in Jesus Christ, NOT by my striving to be good enough!

Romans 6: 1-14 talks about the fact that when we accept Jesus Christ, we share in his death and resurrection. Spiritually, this means that :

Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 

Note to self – because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I share in his death and I am freed from sin – NOT by striving to obey rules and regulations.

Col 2:10 And you are complete in Him,

Note to self – I am complete (made full and perfect) in Jesus Christ, NOT by my striving to do everything perfectly.

I read and re-read these truths over and over again until The Truth of them took hold deep inside of me. Now I no longer walk around with the burden of striving to be good enough for God.

Although I was no longer under the bondage of guilt and condemnation for my sins, I remained under bondage worrying that I wasn’t doing enough for God. I kept hearing the verse from Matthew in which Jesus tells his disciples to “go and teach all nations…”. I would feel inadequate and guilty every time I heard a message about evangelism.

I involved myself in a wide variety of volunteer community service organizations as well as church ministry. I found that I loved teaching the rightly divided word of truth to believers but was very uncomfortable with approaching unbelievers with the gospel – no standing on street corners waving signs for me!

A personal crisis changed my life dramatically and everything that I had been striving to do for God was lost in the aftermath of the storm. I was left feeling COMPLETELY  useless in the Kingdom of God as well as in my own world. I REALLY struggled with a HUGE feeling of having no purpose in life – mine or God’s. I felt cast adrift with no sense of direction. I kept thinking “what is the point of life in this world if I am not using mine to serve God and humanity”??? For me, life without a worthwhile purpose, has no purpose at all.

I received a breakthrough in this struggle after participating in a group study of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life

Through that study I discovered the truth that the main purpose for my life was to have a close and loving relationship with my Heavenly Father, my Abba. This is something that I am able to do 24/7, whether or not I am attending church, carrying out ministry or volunteer work, or just staying at home.

I must confess though, that because I am a “do-er” type of person, and because I know the great need of this world and have a sense of urgency, I can still struggle with the feeling that I need/should be “doing” more. But I try to allow God to be the one to open up opportunities for ministry rather than me “chasing” them. I also try to remember to “bloom where I am planted”, which at this time, is looking after my beloved husband, and “being there” for my sons and mother, all of whom are struggling with various life’s challenges.

Now, instead of always feeling like I need to be constantly striving to carry out some sort of “work” for God, I spend much more time enjoying living with Him – no matter what I am doing.

I pray that you experience the freedom in exchanging striving for living.

 Joh 8:32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 

Php 4:7 And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

 

Grace vs. Mercy

Image result for grace and mercy

In a recent Bible study of the Book of Job, the question arose as to the difference between God’s mercy and God’s grace.

A word study of the definitions of both those terms may lead one to believe that they both mean one and the same thing. Although there are similarities, there are some major differences.

Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defines grace as:

1. Favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another; as a grant made as an act of grace.

2. Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him.

Whereas mercy is defined as:

1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.

 

In simpler terms,” grace is God giving us something we do not deserve; while mercy is God not giving us something we do deserve.” [in a punishment sense] (Compelling Truth )

Rom 5:15 But, not as the offence so also is the free gift; for if by the offence of the one the many did die, much more did the grace of God, and the free gift in grace of the one man Jesus Christ, abound to the many;

Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace. 

Grace has often been defined as “unmerited favour”, meaning that we have done nothing to earn or deserve it.

Rom 11:6 But if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it is of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwise work is no more work. 

 

Mercy basically means that God does not give us “our just desserts” – or the punishment we deserve when we have done something that we shouldn’t have or not done something we should have.

Psa 103:10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
Psa 103:11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so is His mercy toward those who fear Him.

Eph. 2:4,5 His great love with which He loved us, (even when we were dead in sins)


The apostle Paul says this about himself and the mercy extended to him:

1Ti 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who strengthened me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry–
1Ti 1:13 the one who before [as Saul] was a blasphemer and a persecutor and insolent. But I obtained mercy, because being ignorant, I did it in unbelief.

 

Grace and mercy are two important aspects of God’s character.

Psa 86:15 But You, O God, are God full of pity, and gracious, long-suffering, and rich in mercy and truth.

Psa 103:8 Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and rich in mercy.

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us
Eph 2:5 (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved),
Eph 2:6 and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,

 

I pray that you will acknowledge God’s mercy and accept His grace in your life.

2Jn 1:3 Grace will be with you, mercy and peace from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Blessings

(Image credit: “56: Daily Inspirational Bible Verse” by Tito & Eva MarieBalangue (CC BY 2.0) via Pediaa.Com)

ALS

May is also ALS Awareness Month. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is 100% fatal. It may be more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Recently, my women’s fellowship group watched a DVD series entitled Ed’s Story. The series tells the wonderfully moving story of Pastor Ed Dobson’s battle with ALS. The series’ discussion questions provoked some deep and wonderful discussion and sharing within our small group. I highly recommend this DVD series.

Our church family includes someone who has recently been diagnosed with ALS so watching this series was particularly poignant and applicable.

For more ALS information and support, please check out the following websites.

ALS Canada

ALS Association

Blessings

Seeing Red

Image result for red lemon

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. As I am a bladder cancer survivor, I wanted to share the following information:

Bladder cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Canada with close to 9,000 new cases every year. It ranks number 4 in men and number 12 in women. Caught early, the prognosis is excellent for most people. Caught late, it can be a life-altering or life-ending disease. Once diagnosed, lifetime urology checkups will be required.”

Blood in the urine is the most common sign of bladder cancer.

If you see red – see your Doctor!

For more information check out Bladder Cancer Canada website.

(Image from Bladder Cancer Canada website by Elixir Marketing)

Blessings