Identity and DNA

Do you know who you are? 

It’s easy to let yourself be identified by your job, motherhood, sickness, personality type, hobby–I could keep going. 

As Christians, however, our identity is Christ Himself. We are saved by His grace, guided by His Word, and commissioned to tell the world all about it. 

This is who we are. 

Like we talked about a few weeks ago, Jesus is not asking us to drop our brains and our personalities at the door. 

Christians are not bland, boring people. 

Christians are a diverse, beautiful family united and compelled by our devotion to Jesus Christ. 

The Boiler Room discussed 4 fundamental questions this evening that really walk you through what the Christian life is all about. 

  1. Who is God?
  2. What did He do for us?
  3. Who are we? 
  4. What do we do?

These questions–and their answers–are the essence of the gospel message. 

Our identity as individual believers, as the body of Christ, is rooted in the finished work of Jesus. 

It is then lived out in actions that are clearly seen by others. 

Jesus told the disciples in John 17 that the world would know us by our love. 

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:14 that the love of Christ compels us to share the gospel. 

If Christ is our identity and greatest motivator, then love–His self-sacrificing love–is our DNA. 

And with that kind of DNA it puts the actions of our everyday lives in perspective. 

A Redeemed Mind

I found some old history papers from college. Lots of memories came back! 

The rush of reaching the page requirements and thinking of the most academic way of saying something without sounding too boring.

What I remembered most is how much I enjoyed writing those papers. Every paper was an adventure–and I never minded the research, either. 

All of that reading and digging…

I was stretched in many ways during college, ways that I often miss now that I’ve graduated.

Of course, Rhema presents it’s own challenges. My spirit man is getting a real workout! The coolest thing is seeing how my time in a more “academic” setting is helping me now that I’m in Bible school.

The mind and the spirit are powerful when used together. 

Many don’t see it this way, but it’s true. It reminds me of a quote by R.C. Sproul:

An unlearned Christian is no match for a learned skeptic. 

Christians must be able to accurately discuss what they believe with others.

Notice that I didn’t say defend because I don’t believe it’s our job to defend the Scriptures. They have stood the test of time and can defend themselves. 

For the most part, people aren’t attacking the Bible–they just want you to explain it to them.

Most Christians, however, are quite terrible at engaging in conversations about their beliefs. They don’t know the scriptures, are not well read, and are downright mean in their approach to healthy discussions about faith. 

You can be a learned Christian and not:

  • Carry around a large family Bible
  • Talk in esoteric terms
  • Go to Bible school or seminary

 

Christians need to know that they don’t have to check their brains at the door when they accept Christ. 

No, no! Your redeemed mind is a valuable asset in the Kingdom of God.

 

Getting rid of locusts

It’s easy to get sucked into time wasting activities. 

For example, I have to be careful to not let YouTube videos suck me into spending hours doing nothing productive.The struggle is real…

Paul told the Christians at Ephesus to [Be]careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Matthew Henry’s commentary on verse 17 says:

Good Christians must be good husbands of their time, and take care to improve it to the best of purposes, by watching against temptations, by doing good while it is in the power of their hands, and by filling it up with proper employment.

Joel 2:25 is a verse Christians love to quote:

The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost
    to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts,
the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts.”

I’ve seen grown people cry over this verse…

And it’s truly an awesome verse because God is merciful when we completely miss it.

Most of us, like the children of Israel, waste our time on things that eat up our fields and take away opportunities.

My encouragement to us all is to not wait until the locusts, i.e the time wasters, strip our fields before we start getting serious about managing our time. 

If you see a locust, squash it!

Ask the Lord to help you stay on track. 

This is not about legalism, either.

Don’t get busy doing a bunch of stuff out of obligation, thinking that religious activity is like a can of locust repellent.

When I talk about asking the Lord for help, I mean to ask Him to open your eyes to the people who could benefit from you making the most of every opportunity.

 

 

 

Redemption Stories, Part 2

I enjoy listening to other people’s stories, especially men and women  who really love Jesus because of their redemption from a rocky past.

I think about the lady who annointed Jesus’ feet with perfume and washed His feet with her tears…

All of her sins were forgiven! She was so thankful. 

I know that I can look back  over my life and see all my past sin, pain, guilt, shame, and hurt–I’ve been healed from so much!–that God’s goodness is overwhelming in comparison. 

Some people get really uncomfortable about such open displays of gratitude. “Can’t you tone it down a little?” they ask. 

All Jesus says is, “It’s okay. I really appreciate your act of worship, your sincere devotion.”

There are many Christians who feel like they did Jesus a favor by accepting Him, but what did we have to offer?

Enough baggage to fill a cargo plane? 

Empty attempts to gain the approval of others?

In Romans 8:17, it says that we are joint heirs with Jesus, meaning that we are each other’s inheritance. 

This is awesome news for us because it means that all of God’s blessings are given and not earned. Though,  it got me to thinking:

Jesus got the bum end of the deal. 

 I don’t mean this disparagingly, either.  It’s just that in light of His great sacrifice it’s hard for me to be real uppity about how awesome I am. 

Without Christ, I am nothing and I have nothing, so all I have for Him is gratefulness and a heart full of worship.

This is why I get so excited to hear redemption stories and to share my own. 

We were redeemed at great cost and the chance at a do over is more than we could ever imagine. 

Redemption Stories

unityThere is great power in our personal stories (Christians call this their testimony, but story fits just as well here).

I heard several after Mr. Kirk Dubois finished up announcements on Thursday. He invited students up to share how they ended up at Rhema.

Looking at my fellow classmates now, you would never know about their pasts. Coming to Christ radically changed their lives–and the lives of many of their family members as well. 

Today is Good Friday. At 3 PM, Jesus died on the cross. He was falsely accused, mocked, and ridiculed. The events of His Crucifixion were foretold in the Old Testament and by Jesus Himself.

Isaiah 53 says:

He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
    We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed (MSG).

What gets me in this passage is Jesus was “a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand”. The King James calls Jesus a Man of Sorrows. 

Many people claim that no one understands their pain, their suffering.

First off, that’s simply not true. There are others (probably more than you realize) who can identify with you. 

Secondly, Jesus knows your pain.

Blow by blow Jesus was beaten and all of His blood was shed.

Our sins are the reason Jesus willingly laid down His life. 

As you observe Good Friday, maybe even for the first time, meditate on these truths.

Our stories were redeemed because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

 

 

 

 

 

More than a nice story 

I hope there are movies in Heaven. I hope there are story times with the patriarchs and prophets and everyone else in between. 

Because the Bible gives us glimpses, but there are details I want to know!

One of my teachers joked with us in class that the Bible would read much differently if women wrote it. 

The cool thing, though, is that God told us about the important areas in great detail. 

He even set the story in cultural contexts that have been thoroughly studied out by scholars for hundreds of years. 

I love the fact that there will always be more for me to know about God’s Word. 

Everyday I learn more and more about my Father, about how He wants me to live. 

The Bible is not just a nice story–it’s God’s rescue plan to save us from the darkness of sin. 

The Bible is God’s will written out, so there’s no need for us to wonder what He wants us to do. 

And maybe you don’t get why I love the Bible so much, maybe you find it hard to understand. 

Here’s my advice: Pray and ask God to give you understanding–even if you’re not the praying type–and I guarantee that He’ll answer that prayer. 

God’s heart is for every man and woman to know the depths of His love for mankind. 

Share your story

I want to share a praise report with you…

A father and daughter were reunited because my dad shared our story with the father. 

The father is watching our video series to help him navigate this new relationship. 

And a couple of other men are now encouraged to reach out to their abandoned children, too. 

I am incredibly humbled by this news, especially since sharing this part of my life has been a stretch for me.  
Thank the Lord for allowing my dad and I to help others. God gets all of the glory because it’s only by His grace any of this happened. 

Abandonment is a big issue in our world. A growing percentage of children are being ditched by the people who are supposed to love them the most. 

Sadly, most of them see God as another bad parent and walk the other way. 

One of the biggest desires of my heart is to help these hurting children–child and adult alike–see the love of God for them. 

The revelation of God’s love will heal the wounds of broken hearts. 

The power of redemption is best expressed through the narratives of redeemed and restored lives. 

I encourage you to share your story and watch how God uses it to change lives.