One Day by andrea

One day

The birth of Christ is something our family celebrates 365 days a year, Christmas is when the world celebrates His birth together. 

I’ve been told that my rather large family looks on me as a bit over zealous about my faith. I don’t argue that point, I only wish they knew the joy it brings me to have Christmas everyday. To wake to music that celebrates our Savior’s birth and to be reminded to care about my neighbors, to love my enemies and to help feed the poor through all seasons. 

I personally find food drives for Thanksgiving and Christmas somewhat annoying. We give one family enough food for one week, for a single day. The advertising and work put into just one day, spread across the year would seem to me to be far more productive… ? but I’m encouraged that people care enough even if it is for just a little while.

This year something unique occurred for my Christmas. I’ve been involved on Face Book (FB) pages within my own small community. I read how some of my FB neighbors were helping local families. I heard about families that desperately needed toys for their children, used toys. Anything to put under a tree for Christmas morning and many needed a tree. The stories emerged, the one who had their toddler run over by a lawn tractor, after the numerous surgeries and days missed, the father lost his job. Resulting in the loss of their home, then all of their belongings when they couldn’t pay storage fees. I could feel the hurt and only imagine the pain. Even as they were now moving into a trailer, with six children. With nothing. 

As we reached out to this family to help, more families reached out for assistance. Not so their children could have more but so they could have something. I met a few of the (FB) people who were helping these families and heard their own stories. This is an amazing group of people. Some of the most giving people were on unemployment, they needed beds for their own kids. They were helping other people who needed blankets and necessities for their families. There were people who had not eaten in days, it does little good to ask, how does this happen in my upper middle class town? It is happening. Then these FB angels, collected goods and food, one a mother of four, spent Christmas Eve driving to a strange place to deliver food and blankets to complete strangers.

Another family on the move, having their own life drama says, “I have some toys would you pick them up?” My husband then finds out these toys can actually fill a pick up truck. Used beautiful, desirable toys for kids who love trendy toys, new bikes, jewelry and gifts for some of the moms. All for families who would never be able to pay $50 for Monster High dolls with their accessories. The craziness of sorting and distributing these toys and then seeing the tears shed by mothers who would come and say,”thank you” for a donated used toy. All this made Christmas hectic, over-whelming, busy and wonderful. 

With each family I shared how Christ is working in their lives, even in their needs. How He loves them with an extraordinary love. I shared with some “the mortality rate will always be one hundred percent” so live today, pray today, for just this little while enjoy today. Knowing that when you put on Jesus Christ, you put on immortality and you have joy in all situations even in the suffering.

In the end, I was so blessed. Blessed by those that struggled to make ends meet. By those that even in the midst of their struggles reached out to others to help. Blessed by those that donated 
more then they could afford. I was truly blessed. I who needed nothing, needed them to need me, even if just for one day. 

Merry Christmas every day… andrea

Erasing God by Peggy

As we come upon the holiday season, it seems to me that most people get very contemplative about God. That’s a good thing—most of the time.

We also seem to become very conscious and aware of the political climate of our towns, schools, nation and even the world. We see more and more incidents of things like Nativity scenes being removed from the town square, store clerks told they are not to say “Merry Christmas”, etc.…

I see a lot of reactions and responses to society’s attempt for an androgynous holiday season. We all see them: the posts on social media that declare stuff like: “Like this post if you say Merry Christmas”; and of course, the ubiquitous “Jesus is the reason for the season” signs, pins, banners and stickers.

But then there are the folks that are, in my opinion, a little, um.. “Overzealous”. Well-meaning Christians who appear to be so offended by the government’s removal of God that they get downright militant in their response and reactions. Have you ever seen a social media post that says something like: “Like this post if you believe in the constitution and say Merry Christmas to every store clerk, or just keep scrolling if you are happy to be going to hell in a handbasket”. Or, my all-time favorites that conveys the message: “Kids are bullying other kids into a suicidal mindset because we removed God from schools. Like if you want prayer back in schools”.

I usually just keep on scrolling and take my chances that I won’t really go to hell in that handbasket. But I want to take this opportunity to say my piece. You see, I do say Merry Christmas to everyone I see, and once I say it, most store clerks say it right back to me. I also love the season and the Santa Claus, decorations and hustle and bustle—all while KNOWING that Jesus is indeed the reason for the season.

I am not at all worried that we are erasing God by not allowing a Nativity scene on government property. We do not live in a theocratic society, but live in what is probably as close to a democracy as it gets in this crazy world. It is my right to put a Nativity scene on my lawn, and I will defend my right (or yours) to do so always. We are all guaranteed freedom of religion. We can worship as we want and the government cannot stop us. Not any of us.  We ALL have freedom of religion.

So, while I am saddened by it, I’m not upset that Nativity sets and Ten Commandment plaques are removed from government property. As long as they are not allowing any symbolic representation of any religion.

I believe that when someone challenged the courts to remove prayer from public schools (in those days prayer was a normal part of the school day and led by the teachers), that God allowed it to come to pass in order to preserve the children of God from being subjected to prayer led by teachers of other faiths. You see, if teachers are permitted to lead prayer in public schools, then they would be able to lead ANY prayer that they see fit according to their beliefs. No, thank you! I will teach my children about Jesus and teach them to pray. I am not interested in anyone teaching them to pray to the air or wind or anything or one that suits the fancy of the teacher!

I am not concerned that God is being erased by society and/or the government. I am more concerned that He is being hidden, and the only ones that can do that are those that believe in Him and are supposed to be His light in this world. God has not been removed from the schools or from our society.  If you are raising your children to know Him and serve Him, then when they go to school, He is there.  His Word says that He is with us always.  We abide in Him, and He with us.  We are the carriers of His glory in this world.

What does the glory of God look like? It looks like the one who buys an extra cup of coffee and a meal for someone who is hungry. It looks like the nurse who sits in the emergency room with a woman who just found out she is now a widow, and holds her hand until her family arrives. It looks like the one who takes off their own coat to give it to a homeless person on the street, the one opens their home to someone who needs a place to stay. It looks like the changes seen in society not by posting things on social media, but by those prayer warriors who take up the cause on their knees, knowing that God hears them. And yes, it looks like a Nativity scene on the lawn, and the signs reminding us that Jesus really is the reason for the season. It sounds like a choir singing Silent Night and the greeting of Merry Christmas.

No, society cannot erase God—not if we don’t let it.  Reach out to the un-lovely among us; get involved and volunteer somewhere. Run for office and be an honest, forthright, praying politician! Most of all, be obedient to the Word that says in 2Chr. 7:14:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

This season I challenge you not to just think about what to give thanks for, but who you give thanks to. Declare “Merry Christmas” to everyone you can, and while you’re at it, add “and may God bless you!”

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones, and may the Lord abundantly bless you and keep you. May He bless you with a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Erasing God by Barbara

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

Thanksgiving is a day to spend with family and friends giving thanks to God for all He has done for us. The following day, many are shopping to seize the best deal. Though the day is crazy, at least it was the day after Thanksgiving. Stores are now opening on Thanksgiving day. Retail employees must work instead of spending the day with family. Some are out shopping on Thanksgiving to get that hard to find gift or save a bundle. I suppose we can say the stores that open are greedy but it is the enemy who is behind it. He wants nothing more than to tear down the family unit. Some stores are closing on Thanksgiving day, stating, “this is a day to spend with family and the shopping can wait till Friday.” I applaud them. I understand there are folks who must work, such as medical personnel, police officers, firemen, pilots etc. Thanks to all of them!

It is generally during the Christmas season when we encounter particular individuals who want to erase all aspects of God from our country. More and more of our religious freedoms are being taken away. Nativity scenes displayed at public places have become a thing of the past. There are battles as Christmas banners displayed mention Jesus. If our kids and grandkids go to public schools, you are not going to hear any songs about the real reason for Christmas such as Silent Night, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, Oh Holy Night, etc. at their Christmas program. Prayer has been out of school for years. In schools and other establishments, one could lose their job for praying. Everywhere, we see groups or individuals doing their best to erase God.

It made me question, what happened that they detest God so much they want to erase all aspects of Him? Could it be these people are acting out of a place of pain, hurt, disappointment and are blaming God? In some cases might they feel that no loving God could cause the pain that transpired in their life so He must not exist? If so, they are deceived. They brought into a lie that the enemy has fed them. What they don’t comprehend is that we live in a fallen world because of the sin of Adam BUT Jesus set us free. He can heal all that hurt and pain. He came that they would have life and have it more abundantly.

This does not imply when facing the battles, we become passive and do nothing. There are issues in life that need confrontation and discipline BUT we need to see people the way that God sees them. God is not just about love He is love. I believe when He looks at a person, He sees what He intended that person to be. He does not see the faults but he sees the destiny He planned for them. Think about the most evil person you know and realize Jesus died for them too.

So as Christian what can we do? Our biggest weapon against these issues is prayer. We can’t expect the Lord to move if we are not bringing it to Him. Pray not for victory but pray from the victory. Pray the solution not the problem. Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “the tongue has the power of life and death.” Talking about Jesus and quoting scriptures will not change anyone’s mind. They need to see Jesus in us, Jesus working through us. In previous blogs I stated that some people get on my last nerve. In the last couple of months this is changing and I focus on seeing them through the eyes of Jesus, though that doesn’t mean I haven’t fallen short at times. I am praying for the boldness to approach anyone and ask if I can pray for them no matter what their demeanor. Imagine praying for someone that is doing their best to erase God and see them get healed. If nothing else it would surely give them a new perspective. If we as Christians walk in God’s love and power, who knows, the Christmas songs and prayer may be back in schools, nativity scenes and banners will be displayed again with no protests. Possibly, stores would close again Thanksgiving Day and families would be together, giving thanks to God.

Read the Bible verse at the top. Where it says “Love is patient” etc. Replace love with the Name of Jesus and read it again, and replace Jesus’ name with your name. This says who we were meant to be.

Here is a video of a man that truly walks in the love and power of God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7s9bRIB-wE His name is Todd White. He tells the story of having been invited to a school with a number of other guests to talk about their religion so the teens could make a choice. Todd didn’t talk religion or Jesus. He showed them Jesus and it transformed them. This is the way the Christian life should be lived and it is exciting.

Everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas! God Bless!

 

Erasing God by andrea

 I don’t think the problem is erasing God as much as it is taping over God. If you ever owned a tape and didn’t punch out the tabs, anyone could come along and rewrite over what you previously taped. So here we have God in our midst, the Christ has come we know for sure He is the way the Truth and the Light and we want with all our hearts to join together as one body, one heart, loving one another but we don’t know about punching out the tabs…. and we allow others to tape over what God gave us until we no longer remember the very real experience of our conversion. Instead we are given doctrine and someone else’s interpretation of scripture. We sit and hear someone else tell us what God says. Instead of learning to listen, to hear God for ourselves we are encouraged to not question the scriptures or the pastor.

      Then sometimes it’s our cultural views or the very important issues of the day that we allow to block our view of Christ. Even amongst Christians I often hear more about the Presidential candidates then I do about Jesus. Politics won’t fix us. Christ exists within all types of governments, we weren’t sent to change governments. We were sent to change hearts. Ultimately, when enough hearts are changed, that is reflected in the culture.

(I left this here for a few days)

….and then Paris. I have wondered so often about what humanity thinks will change hearts and minds. I know Christ changed mine, I believe He is waiting to change those caught in Islam. The terrible truth is, they haven’t erased God, they have written over Him. Called Him another name, written another book… made up another doctrine. Jesus isn’t the Book, He isn’t the doctrine, He is God. We nailed Him to a cross, we killed the King of Glory and yet He lives. He never forced himself on anyone, He never forced the religious leaders to change their ways. He only offered His truth, He offered Himself, a living sacrifice to change our hearts and minds. He still does…

       The awful truth is… the mortality rate is 100%. We will all die. We have a choice while there is time, to choose love or hate, life or death. I choose to follow the God that loves. He loves Paris, Beijing. Washington D.C. He also loves Jerusalem and Baghdad. It doesn’t matter if you have the red, white and blue flag or the black, green, white and red flag… He died for us all. Suffered for us all. So my prayer is that the Lord raise up powerful, loving missionaries that will go into the lion’s den and preach Christ. Because after all, the mortality rate is still 100%. We may as well die for something worth while.

      We will never erase God, I see people turn their heads and pretend they don’t know He exists but we all know. Faith is a choice, it is also a gift. It must be received. Take it, its yours. As we all grieve for Paris and for the Middle East, I still choose to have hope, that the long ugliness will allow the beauty of Christ to shine through to those who need Him more now then ever before. As the one widower said, he will never allow hatred or fear to tape over the love planted in his heart. Powerful message from someone with all the reason in the world to hate except he knows only love wins.

      Be comforted, knowing the Lord is still on His throne and He is merciful, loving and worthy. God Bless, andrea

Erasing God by Ronda

Take a moment and think about your last trip to your closest department, drug or dollar store. If you are like me you probably just ran in to pick up a few things to complete the week’s lunch or dinner menu and what do you find? Well before we get into the response, let me ask another question during this special time of year…tis the season but what exactly is it the season for? In most stores I frequent, you really can’t tell what season it is. I am always shopping last minute for Thanksgiving items like festive napkins or may be some seasonal side dish; only to find those items delegated to the very end of the clearance aisle after I have walked past all the Christmas décor. This is the world we live in.

 

I used to be one of those who enjoyed the Black Friday shopping sales. I would go out in the dark to hit my favorite stores just because I enjoyed the “tradition” of it. It was the marking of the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. I wouldn’t go “hog- wild” or anything. I wouldn’t even try to come close to completing my Christmas shopping. I just liked to snatch up those few great deals that seemed worth the trip. Well, I gave up my shopping tradition a few years ago when shop turned violent and people were getting shot. Most recently, the “Black Friday” shopping has turned into early bird Thanksgiving Thursday and that was what sealed the deal. So back to my original question: what season is it anyway?

 

In our secular and commercialized culture, it isn’t easy to determine the answer. More importantly, as a believer should I be expecting to find some exact marked delineation? I don’t think so. Although, there may have been a time when our culture actually embraced the biblical meaning of Christian celebrations, I don’t think we should be surprised by the changes that we currently see. Many of our celebrations have symbols of paganism that don’t really reflect biblical context, so where does the responsibility lie when it comes to maintaining a biblical perspective. I would argue, the responsibility is ours as believers. We can’t look to a secular society and expect that we will find a true expression of our faith or our God. Scripture says the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, neither can he know them. (I Cor. 2:14) We should be more introspective and look at how our own lives contribute to the problem. I started with not participating in the “Black Friday” shopping. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, however I do believe we ought to have conviction.

 

If we look to biblical context we will find that God has always wanted a people separated and consecrated to Him. A people set apart in the midst of cultures that were pagan and serving other gods – in the world but not of the world. The same could be said for today. In the midst of a society that has commercialized our Christian holidays, what can we do to restore our true biblical heritage back to our celebrations?   I am not sure I know the answer but I think a lot of it has to do with us not getting “caught up” in traditions that don’t reflect our faith authentically. Now, this is coming from someone who absolutely enjoys putting up our Christmas tree and decorations. It is a family tradition for us to have hot cocoa, a yummy sweet snack and sing Christmas carols! I am just sharing what this topic of “erasing God” provoked in my own consciousness. If you have read any of my other posts, then you know that I have been studying a lot about the Hebraic Roots movement. There is so much to be learned about our Christian roots and these topics are directly related to our holidays (supposedly holy days). I don’t want to get into a debate about it, but it is something to ponder. It is interesting to examine how much of our traditional holiday symbols are actually rooted in pagan culture and not true biblical celebrations. I don’t have a concrete solution to this problem. But it is definitely food for thought.

 

As a family, we have never acknowledged Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, but we do celebrate our holidays traditionally. As I learn more about Hebraic Roots, I will have to wrestle with the truth that is speaking to my own heart as I think we all must do. Needless to say, I am not expecting to “see” God expressed in a culture that is counter to His kingdom. I hope that as I walk through these seasons someone sees God in me and in His people by the manner in which we honor who He is in our lives. I pray that my family celebration is one that doesn’t blend in with the spirit of the world but rather testifies to a message of truth, by the Spirit of Truth.

 

So as we celebrate however we celebrate I pray that the God’s Spirit will lead and guide us to be a living witness to the truth that we believe. God is with us. He came as Emmanuel. He lives with us now as Holy Spirit. In the time to come, Christ will return and reign then at the appointed time God, as His Shekinah Presence will be with us all.

 

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

In all things give thanks…for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. II Thessalonians 5:19

Rhythm by andrea

  Life has a rhythm, from your heart beat to your first breath, the way you walk through life is your song. How you react to life might be your refrain. It repeats over and over, whether or not it is edifying and joyful will  largely depend on you. 
     Each person in your life, and every event will be like an instrument someone is playing in your song and you have a choice. Learn to sing your own song or learn to drown out the voices. I suggest listening with a tuned ear. There are many songs out there with various rhythms and we must be selective or our lives will become nothing but noise with little joy and no chorus. 
      Being raised in a chaotic home with 12 siblings and all they bring made my life seem far more unstable and hectic than it needed to be. I didn’t know how to listen to the voice of the Lord because when the subject of religion or God came up, it was shut down with mockery and cynicism. I wonder how different my life would have been if I had known there was someone listening who cared. When I finally came to faith, I also realized that the Lord had been speaking to me my whole life. I was refusing to listen. So I stumbled through life and looked to what ever could fill the void in my soul. I would sit next to the radio changing the channel till something came on that reflected how I felt. I was sad, angry, rebellious and lonely and so was my song. There was not a day that went by that I didn’t consider taking my life. To those that know me today, they can’t imagine that person but I remember her well. Today my music is joyful yet meaningful. I like to understand the words and I love music that fills my being with praise and makes my heart melt with the love of God and the awe of His creation. 
    Ask yourself if your life were a song what would be its title? What genre? Would it be country song, a ballad, a hymn, easy listening? Can you see how your song has changed over your life? Can you see if it brings joy or stirs pain, is it angry or does it stir deep emotions in people and which emotions would they be? 
    The rhythm of your life is only part circumstances. It is often which way you choose to bring forth what is within you. Will you go about humming a tune or singing full throated. God gave you songs to sing, choose which ones you’ll sing and ask Him to release in you a new song. A song of salvation of love and worship, an offering to Christ, who alone is the Giver of life.
    Years ago I chose not to play secular music in my home. Why spend the time and effort when I can listen and sing songs that fill me with joy and surround me with thoughts of His glory. I often leave worship music playing and ask the Lord to receive it and bless my home with His presence even while I am gone (don’t tell anyone – they’ll think I’m a little crazy). I believe the Lord has His angels around us, that His presence is within us and that He is able to stand guard over our hearts and minds and our homes.
     I pray my rhythm is the Lord’s rhythm, my thoughts be His thoughts and listening to music that glorifies Christ lifts my spirit and focuses my mind on Christ. I start my day with music and try to sing to myself through the day. Music is an amazing part of my life I consider it a gift from our Creator. 
Psalm 100 says it all
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;1
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Rhythm by Ronda

There are those that have rhythm and those who don’t have it. That is the simple truth. I am sure we can all think of a wedding that we attended where everyone silently prayed for that person on the dance floor. LOL. I am thinking about one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes where Elaine is at a wedding “dancing” and everyone is enjoying it way too much! It is easy to spot someone who doesn’t have rhythm in dance because you can see the awkwardness and lack of fluidity in movement. However what about other forms of rhythm? How do we discern our own rhythm? I want to testify, it isn’t easy.

For the past several months I have been in the process of restructuring my business.

During this time I have been seeking new methods of implementing my plans. One day I came across some information on a gov’t sponsored grant seminar that was being held in North Jersey. I had come across the information at the last minute and decided I was going to make an attempt to attend. When I went to register for the event, I realized there was only one more seat available. Surely this meant that I was supposed to go, so I thought. It was going to be at an inconvenient time, nevertheless, I registered and started making arrangements to attend. To make a long story, short, when I arrived for the seminar, I found out that the seminar was not being held on that day. This was after I arrived a few minutes late and abruptly walked into the listed conference room only to interrupt some other training session! The information on the website and even the event information was incorrect! I spent a whole morning in traffic, a lot of traffic, only to get there and feel totally doped and disappointed. I called the gov’t agency office to let them know the information on the event was incorrect. The office representative was very apologetic yet at the time that didn’t really help. I felt totally out of sorts and couldn’t figure out how I ended up there on the wrong day. Why didn’t I get some type of witness or check in my spirit? What was I supposed to be learning from this? I didn’t get any of those answers then…. I had to take the time to sit and reflect. I had to reflect not just about that day but also on weeks and months of previous activity. What was I missing from the picture?

Finally I came to the conclusion that I had gotten off track. I was operating in my own timing and not in God’s. I was out of rhythm with Him. This is the simple explanation. I had to really pray about why I was out of rhythm. What was the cause or causes? What I realized is that, for me, there are several things that can get me off track or out of rhythm. It was important for me to acknowledge those catalysts and make efforts to keep those in check consistently. Now I am coming to all these revelations after the Lord had spoken to me many times about rest and observing a Sabbath. The Lord has encouraged me to pray about my time in the sense of offering it to Him. He sanctified time in blessing the Sabbath but we still tend to believe that it belongs to us. Our time here is really a gift, it is something we must steward wisely. It is not easy for me. I have to be very diligent. There are

many “times” where I have missed the mark like my little road trip. However, I am thankful for His amazing grace.

Even when we get out of sync, or our timing is off, or our rhythm and movement seems awkward and out of sorts Father God is gracious. He helps us get back on track and He shows us where we have stumbled. He is faithful. For me the difficulty can be in becoming too focused other things, all good but not His best for me. I also can become too confident in my own ability and not be dependent on His guidance. It is important to be dependent upon Him; totally dependent on Him even from day to day, moment to moment. It is easy to think that rhythm is routine but it is not.

In nature it is easy to see that Our Creator has a rhythm to almost everything. I think the ocean is a good example. The ebb and flow of the water and waves provides a necessary rhythm that affects our entire ecosystem. Those waves move rhythmically but waves look different every time. It is a rhythm but not a routine, a movement that is similar but with the necessary effect for the moment. There is a little book that I enjoy reading every summer called Gift of the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It is a little book with a powerful timeless message. Ms. Lindbergh speaks directly to the heart of women in expressing the challenges of finding our rhythm and balance in life. Lindbergh, was a woman before her time in many regards, somewhat of a Renaissance woman. She is brutally honest about the challenges and the cost of trying to “ have it all” from a woman’s perspective. She makes these profound discoveries during a sabbatical at the beach, hence the title, Gift of the Sea. Her observation of the ocean and all its surroundings helped her see the importance of rhythm. It is a wonderful read that I highly recommend.

Here is a small excerpt:

What is the answer? There is no easy answer, no complete answer. I have only clues, shells from the sea. The bare beauty of the channeled whelk tells me that one answer, and perhaps the first step, is in simplification of life, in cutting out some of the distractions. But how? Total retirement is not possible. I cannot shed my responsibilities. I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be. The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life. I can at least practice for these two weeks the simplification of the outward life, as a beginning. I can follow this superficial clue, and see where it leads. Here , in beach living, I can try.

So I guess what I am really trying to say is that rhythm is complicated and isn’t as easy to obtain as we might think. When we have it we know and when we don’t we sort of figure that out too. Hopefully, we can figure it out without too many casualties. Somehow I would like to think it is really part of the journey of faith.

There are many things that can make us have to push the reset button in life, some positive and some negative. Changes in life and seasons can require a change in rhythm. I think the important lesson is making the necessary adjustments with total dependence on the Creator of everything so that our rhythm is in harmony with His.

Identity by Peggy

Who Am I?  What is my identity? Why am I here? An existential question I think mankind has always asked itself. A struggle we all face at various times, as our life situations change (going from high school to college or working world, becoming a parent, losing a close loved one, etc…) For some, the struggle is acute; tortuous, even.

There are many ways in our society by which we are identified: our names, of course, gender, Social Security number, our career/job, our station in life. Some identify themselves as a husband, wife, mother, or father. You get the idea.

Since technology has opened the entire world to us, we now even have to take precautions to protect ourselves against those who would steal our identities. It is a real fear for some, and a harsh reality to others. Who would have very thought such a thing? Geez, louise, It’s all so exhausting!

I have found that identity without God is such a burden! At its root, identity is really no more than others’ perception of a person—how do others see me? Always concerned that we won’t measure up, we try to conform to the opinions of others, rather than allow ourselves to develop and grow into the fullness of our potential. It’s an oppressive yoke.

As a Christian woman, I find that my identity lies squarely with who I am in Christ. I could list every Scripture in the Bible about who God says we are, and it will greatly bless you—the Word of God speaks to us deep in our spirit. But rather than that, let me share a personal experience.

I remember one time while praying, the Scripture verse Isa. 43:1 came to me: “…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” I thought how nice and comforting it is, to know I am His. Then I thought again, and just saw a picture of God sitting there looking at me, saying “and why would you settle for that?”   whoa. What?!?

It was one of those “aha” moments, realizing that Christianity means one is in a relationship. And relationships take effort. Yes, it is comforting and awesome to now that I am His, but what about Him? Why would I settle for half of a relationship, and why would I ever want God to settle for half of a relationship with me? Do also respond to that verse with “And You are mine”?

He has already invested all of Himself into a relationship with me, but do I always invest all of myself back into that relationship? I’m working on it! Oh, yes, there are many times that I just need to know that He is there and He’s got the day, and I don’t put much into it myself. Thankfully, He is there, He is listening (even when I’m acting like a brat), and He loves me unconditionally.

I have found that my identity in Christ is empowering. I don’t need to worry about how others’ see me, but I can ask God “How do You see me”, and grow into that. God sees me as His child, His joint heir, His beloved. How could I not want to develop that?? There is great freedom in this identity.

C.S. Lewis says: “God doesn’t want something from us. He simply wants us”. The key to our identity in Christ is developing our relationship with Him.

One of my favorite books in the Bible is the Song of Solomon. In chapter 2, it says “I am my beloved’s, and He is mine”. How simple is that?

Identity by Barbara

Identity

I’m aware I repeat myself in this blog but various statics show that we only retain around 10% of what we read therefore, I feel it is worth repeating.

Many people make the mistake of thinking identity is in what we do. Though it may create interesting conversation when we meet someone, our identity is not in what we do for a living but who we are. Our Identity is our individuality, uniqueness, character, personality, etc.

The key question is: Who does Christ say I am? To get a grasp on this read the book of Romans but there are many verses in the Bible that enlighten us regarding who we are in Christ, once we accept Him as Savior.

Let us look at what the Word has to say on the subject.
All Bible verses are taken from the Living Bible unless otherwise noted. Italics are mine.

For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 King James
(Jesus became sin for us so we could be right with God)

Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love. Ephesians 1:4   (We are loved and blameless in His eyes.)

When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17
(We become a new creature once we accept Him.)

Even in his own land and among his own people, the Jews, he was not accepted. Only a few would welcome and receive him. But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them.
John 1:12
(We are His children)

I no longer call you slaves, for a master doesn’t confide in his slaves; now you are my friends, proved by the fact that I have told you everything the Father told me.
John 15:15
(We are His Friends)

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7 King James
(We no longer have to live in fear but live in power, love and free from anxiety)

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Philippians 4:13 King James
(God gives us the strength to do ALL things, He wants us to achieve)

Jesus sent them out with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, 6 but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure the lepers, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
Matthew 10: 5-8
(When this verse states, “Jesus sent them out” “them” also means us”)

WOW! The Lord sure has given us a astounding identity. Actually it is quite humbling. It amazes me even with all our imperfections the Lord loves us and sees us the way He does. I find it heartbreaking that there are so many people who don’t even have a clue who they are in Christ and what we can achieve through Him. Although we may never fully understand it, if we believe the Word of God, then we comprehend what He says is true. It is crucial to get into the Word so we don’t become prey to the identity thieves.

Identity thieves come in many shapes and forms. The main culprit is the enemy. The enemy has a way of tempting us and then justifying the action. As soon as we give into the temptation he beats us over the head with condemnation. He will make statements such as: “Oh, I can’t believe you just did that! You’re such a jerk! What an idiot you are! God is so disappointed in you, He will never answer your prayer now! God doesn’t love you anymore!” Etc., Etc. These are lies straight from the pit of hell. Yes, there may be consequences to our actions but it NEVER changes the way God feels about us. He loves us! NOTHING will and can change that. We still are who He says we are! Get into the Word and read who the Lord says you are.

Unfortunately, sometimes the thieves can come from the church. If you are in a church and all you hear preached is what a filthy rag you are and how you will never measure up, it is time to find another church. There are times when the Pastor will need to bring correction to his church, but if you leave that place mainly feeling bruised and beaten, your identity is being stolen from you. Ask the question, “who does Christ say I am?” Find another church that understands the new covenant and recognizes we are no longer under the law.

What if I hear someone is sick? I then feel led to go pray with them for healing. The thought comes to mind, “Right numbskull, after the argument you had with your husband this morning, the Lord is really going to use you. Ha! Come on, get real!” If I listen to that thought, I just became a target of identity theft. I need to rebuke that thought, remind myself who I am in Christ and know that the Lord wants me to pray for the sick and then just do it!

Sadly, many have grown up in dysfunctional homes. You may have been put down throughout your life and told you would never amount to anything. Even if you were blessed to grow up in the greatest of homes, sooner or later you’ll be attacked by these thieves. You can find them in the work place, neighborhood, school and anywhere there’s people. Try to remember that hurting people hurt people. Whatever terrible things were said about you, it is not who Christ says you are. Unless the Lord tells us otherwise, I see nothing wrong with parting ways with the identity thieves in our lives. Yes, we need to forgive and pray for them but that doesn’t mean we have to subject ourselves to their abuse.

I hope this gives a better understand on your identity and by no means let anyone steal it from you. I mentioned Andy Wommack before but I want to repeat, he is a wonderful teacher. If you listen to him on a daily basis and you don’t know who you are in Christ yet, you will after listening to him. You can even get his teachings for free. His program is called “The Gospel Truth.” This is not to take the place of your Bible reading or church. I do realize some cannot get to church or just haven’t found the right one yet. Bibles can be expensive BUT almost everyone has a computer or a digital reader such as an iPad, Kindle Fire, plus there are many more. Many Bible apps are free and you can read almost any version. You can also read two versions side by side which I especially like. My favorites are Bible Gateway and You Version so if you don’t have a Bible get on line or get one of the free apps and read all about your identity. You won’t be sorry.

Identity by andrea

My identity in Christ.
I told my husband before I began writing this… it’s so boring, the same old same old… yet it’s my truth, this is my identity in Christ. It courses through my being … its all about Jesus
     I am a Protestant. A Charismatic. A Molinist. An egalitarian. Non-denominational and a Conditionalist.
     None of that means anything…. over 30 years ago I asked Christ into my heart and I began a journey into eternity. What I believed about scripture along the way has little to do with who I am in Christ Jesus. My identity changed when I stopped trying to be correct and started trusting in Christ’s righteousness and not my own.
     As I read Christian blogs and see people arguing over “how to pray” or which translation of the Bible is the most correct. I just want to reach inside of every one of them and ask, “are you more saved then that one”? Does what you believe in theory change who you are in Christ? Am I more saved today then I was the first day? Does knowledge elevate our status in Christ? I know I walk in more joy and I am more effective through knowing Christ more intimately but I am not more saved. That work was finished on the cross at Calvary. 
      In 1983 I was an atheist. I really disliked religion and Christianity was the religion I saw around me. I thought, those Christians, always trying to shove their beliefs down everyone else’s throats yet look at them. That bunch of hypocrites! There are people starving and all they care about are their church buildings. Those stained glass windows could feed a few hungry people. The more public the Christian right became the more I hated Christianity. Then in a moment, it all changed and I became what I hated. Not only was I a Christian but I was a Christian who wanted to be right. I wanted the correct doctrine, the correct church and I wanted to be a ‘good’ Christian. UGH. 
     In the midst of my struggles, the Lord in His wonderful grace would give me a word or a vision. Like road signs through a desert, one day at a time, one struggle at a time, until I realized I was not able to do this Christian life and I admitted to myself and to God, that I would have to go to hell. I just couldn’t be a Christian. As I explained to the Lord, that I understood why. His word read, no drunkard, liar, thief… 1 Cor 6:9 Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. I knew somewhere in that list I belonged but I was going to be the only one there, in hell, who still loved Him…. I vividly remember that vision. I was standing in a dark pit and Christ looked at me and put His arms very gently out to me and said “but “I” won’t let you”. In one moment I realized, it didn’t matter if I was unworthy. As my vision expanded, I saw all around me, prostitutes and drug addicts, homeless people in dirty clothes and He was speaking to all of us, “I won’t let you”. I didn’t know how but I knew it wasn’t about my righteousness but it was all about Jesus. Today I ask people, “how big is the cross”? How much work was done on that cross? I think of Christ speaking and the universe was formed. How big would His dying be? I am a mere human, finite and mortal, with a mind ill equipped to fathom infinity. I cannot wrap my brain around God. He never asked me to understand Him, He only asked me to love Him and my neighbors. I still have work to do in that area. When I get the love God with all your heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself down pat, I’ll move on to bigger issues but until then; I am just trusting Jesus.
     I am a child of God, a citizen of heaven. I follow Christ because He first loved me and I am a part of His kingdom because of what He has done and not because of anything I have done. It is the righteousness of Christ that I trust. Because “Sweet Jesus” I know I am not righteous because of my own behavior. The Lord judges the heart and if you could read what goes on in mine, you would see a battle raging. I don’t have to tell you about my battles, we all have them. We walk in fear, while we try to love. We walk in hate because we fear. This carnal body, who is able to save me from sin and death… only Jesus. I read Romans 7 and 8 aloud this morning, its wonderful. Rom 7: 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
     For this reason only do I identify with Christ because He is my righteousness and I am eternally grateful. There are no words to express the gratitude I have within me for His great love for me, this most unworthy being. Jesus saved me while I was still a mess, an atheist who mocked and ridiculed His church, His followers, His word and His cross. Until the day, I learned He loved me anyway. Not because I was worthy but because I was NOT worthy, I was angry, needy and hurting. It seems the qualifications to be a Christian are very low. I am quite sure you meet them. The only people Jesus turned away were those that were so religious, they condemned others to hell while exalting themselves.
    God bless, andrea