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Identity Defines You

The topic of identity seems to be coming up repetitively in my life as of late. I decided it was time to write about it. We all have things we identify with. We all have things we use to label and describe. We all have specific traits and characteristics that describe us. We often find a sense of identity in those things. Similar people will often speak that over us. We call people names. We give people identities. Unfortunately our words often have power. I am so guilty of this. I often in anger or resentment will speak out a negative identifying characteristic onto someone else or even myself thus giving a false identity. I often falsely identify myself and others.

When I say I am white, I can easily make my identity as being a white person. When I say I am bipolar, I can easily make my mental health condition my identity. I often hear people who struggle with homosexuality do this to themselves. I am gay. Or I see someone who is alcoholic do this by saying I am alcoholic. I hate these phrases. For when we are in Christ, when we make our identity in Christ we are a new creation. We are children of God. We may have characteristics about us but those characteristics are not our identity. If you struggle with alcohol addiction your identity is not that you are an alcoholic. Rather you are a child of God who struggle with the temptation of alcohol. If you struggle with sexual temptations you are not just a sex addict rather you are a child of God, a new creation in Christ, called to live a holy life but have the temptation of sexual sin which you battle.

We all have temptations and struggles. We all have things about us that are less than perfect. We all have things we wrestle with. But by being a Christian we are given victory over these things. We struggle but they do not define us. We are victorious in Christ. I think we all need to start identifying ourselves as God’s children and new creations in Christ rather than letting our struggle be our identity.

So much conflict, segregation and discrimination arises from falsely identifying ourselves. For when we make our identity in anything other than Christ the result will always be the same conflict, hate, discrimination and segregation.

Prayer is What Ignites

Have you even cooked on a gas stove? To light the flame you first have to turn the stove to ignite. You can actually hear the clicking of the starter. Without this igniter the gas will come out but there will be no flame. I would like to think of prayer as the tool that ignites. The Holy Spirit is like the gas within us producing the flame.

We as Christians are called to do good works. Our faith should produce in us good works. But as Christians we do not do good work out of our own self will power. When we do things purely by our own means we easily get burned out, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Similarly we as humans have so very little power, knowledge or ability. Rather as a Christian all things should start with prayer. It is through prayer that the Holy Spirit inside us becomes lite to produce a bright flame illuminating the darkness. The good works we produce are then a result of the Holy Spirit within us given to us by our Heavenly Father. But it all starts with prayer or you will never have anything to ignite the gas.

I kind of think of the good works we do as humans is like us cooking something. Would you rather boil a pot of water with a flame or try to boil a pot of water using your own human breath? Your own human breath may be warm but will never be hot enough to boil the water. You will blow, blow and blow to the point of exhaustion and never boil the water. Rather the flame that comes from God’s spirit can boil any pot. Similarly if you add salt to the water then you lowered the threshold for which the water boils. Jesus is the salt to the earth.

So never forget everything starts with prayer. For without prayer you do not have anything to ignite the gas.

Are You God’s Peacemaker?

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:13-18

This passage of scripture really spoke to me. We are in a time that things do not always seem peaceful. We have an ongoing pandemic. There are protests and rioting which are meant to be peaceful but are far from it. Within my own personal life there have been a number of deaths due to mental illness that are tragedies. This world seems far from peaceful. But this unrest and discord is not from God. He works through it. He brings glory to himself through it but the underlying unrest, death, despair and conflict is not of God.

This passage today was a good reminder that God’s spirit gives us wisdom that is pure; peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. When we as Christians are walking by the spirit, listening and obeying God then our actions and words should be pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, and sincere. I have to admit that many times my words are far from these things. And even worst my thoughts. It is often a struggle inside myself. For my greatest battlefield is inside me.

So often we want to solve the worlds problems. This is not necessarily bad but the greatest way to solve the worlds problems is to start with yourself. We ourselves have to be pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, and sincere. Otherwise we will be causing the worlds problems rather than fixing them. God often works and moves in this world through us his children. When we are pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, and sincere we will be reflecting God’s wisdom to others.

Given we are in a pandemic with forced social distancing, quarantining and much isolation let’s use this time wisely to be more introspective. To examine ourselves for purity, peacefulness, compassion, submissiveness, mercy, and sincerity rather than trying to fix what is out of our control. Our world needs more peacemakers. Let’s all work to be God peacemakers.

God’s Code is for Safety

I was recently watching a home renovation tv show. I very much enjoy these home renovation shows, sometimes I even get good craft ideas. Anyway at one point in the show someone had a design element idea for the stairs. I had to admit it was a neat idea. They brought the idea to the person in charge of the project and they were like that is a good idea but does it meet the code? It was a cool idea but it did not meet the standards set by the governing authorities for safety. So good idea but it could not be done.

When I think about the Christian Faith there are the two sides. On one side we have freedom, we no longer have to live by the strict law that was set in the Old Testament rather when we walk by the spirit we live in freedom as we love God and neighbor. But living by the spirit does not mean that we have no code. For there are still very much a code we live by for it is what provides us safety, accountability and guidance on how to effectively live by the spirit, love God and neighbor.

In the Old Testament there was the 10 commandments but also a string of religious law. Many things where considered unclean. There were many rules and codes. Then Jesus came, died, rose again and establish a new law founded on grace and love. We as Christians have the opportunity to live by the spirit, love and grace in this new covenant. But the Bible and the body of Christ still gives us a code of standards that help us to know whether we are living by the spirit. This code is not meant to chain us rather keep us safe. Much like in the renovation show, some ideas we think might be great ideas may not be safe. The Christian code very much does the same for us believers.

One reason we need the body of Christ, ie the church, is to help us with this code. One reason we need to know God’s word in the Bible is it helps us know God’s code. We as Christians are free but our freedom should be used to love, help and serve. Not harm. We need the code to help prevent harm and effectively live by the spirit.

The Raging Wind of Uncertainty

As much as I like to have a map, detailed plans and a sense of certainty in life unfortunately my life is often far from any of those things. For me in particular I dislike uncertainty. It easily causes me to feel out of control, anxious and more likely to panic. The unknown is scary. The uncertainty gives a certain level of fear. Overall it is stressful. Some people easily thrive on uncertainty. They like the adrenaline rush. The adventure. I on the other hand prefer all my little ducks to be in a row. But life often throws us twists and turns. We often feel like we are being tossed and thrown this way and that way by a raging wind. Life is often not as certain as we wish. Similarly if life deviates from the plans we have made, then we often do not handle the fall out well. Or at least I do not handle it well.

I have had to come to terms with the fact that nothing in life is ever certain other than God and his plans. I may think I know what God’s plans are for my life but let’s just say I am often completely blind. I may be uncertain of many things but God is certain of all things. My job is to abide in Jesus. That is the key to God’s plans coming to fruition in our lives. For in comparison to God’s wisdom, understanding and ways we are all blind beggars. But as a blind beggar if we humbly come to our Heavenly Father asking for his direction, wisdom and for his will to be done in our lives we can rest in the fact that we may be blind, we may be uncertain but our Heavenly Father sees all, knows all and understands all.

I do not need certainty in my life. For any certainty I creat for myself is false. I trust in the one true God who is certain of all things. I cast my worries and anxieties I feels from uncertainty on Jesus for he is my good shepherd who guides those who call on his name. So if you are struggling with uncertainty, call on Jesus. Trust that your Heavenly Father has the answer. Praise him, worship him and abide in him. He we see you through the raging winds. Amen.