Archive for the ‘Identity’ Category

Intimate Father: A Reflection on Psalm 139:13-18

November 29, 2010

(This devotional parallels “Breath of Life” posted on May 25, 2010)

 Father,

As You breathed life into Adam, even so, You breathed life into me. My heart was awaken at the sound of Your heartbeat. Your loving desire and innermost longing created me, crafted me, and birthed me. My life began in an intimacy with You that continues throughout my life.

 Psalm 139: 13-18

 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

You envisioned me. Your craftsmanship sculpted me, You placed me and positioned me in my mother’s womb.

 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

I am God’s masterpiece. His artistic design of me was intentional. He wholeheartedly focused His skills in completing me. He worked with precision carrying out His master plan. God never fails, experiences no blunders, mistakes, or mishaps.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Nothing about me is an “oops!” During my creation nothing occurred outside Your plan, every element of my being was directed and orchestrated by You.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

You were intimately involved in my birth and intricately involved in my life. You have a purpose and a specific plan for each day. My life is full of purpose, futility is non-existent.

 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.

God, Your love, knowledge, intention, and intimacy blows me away. Your goodness and greatness are baffling and incomprehensible.

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He Knows Me

November 24, 2010

This devotional has been revised and reposted. It was first posted on July 8 , 2010.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.” Psalm 139:1

“Please Lorie, please pray that God would give me words to explain myself to my dad,” was the prayer request of a down syndrome teenager. How I wanted to wrap my arms around this young lady and thank her for capturing and articulating the heart desire of every woman. How we yearn for words to fully express ourselves and long to communicate in a way that we are fully understood by someone who completely accepts us.

Unfortunately, the opposite is commonly experienced. We are not understood, not known intimately, and commonly dismissed. Our attempts prove futile, our words inadequate, and our energy is fully drained in unsuccessful attempts. We are left with unsatisfied longings, unmet desires, and the resulting disappointment that plunges us into hopelessness. To protect our injured hearts, we withhold speaking and eventually become silent. No longer living, simply existing. Our presence is acknowledged, but no one peers into our heart comprehending our thoughts, feelings, and the fears we are unable to communicate.

Like David, we have a friend who hears and understands the unspoken words of our heart. We travel with a life companion who thoroughly comprehends how our past experiences have framed us, defined us, and impacted us. He has faithfully traveled through each moment with us.

To those hiding away in fear concerned that once you are understood, you will be unloved, hear God’s thoughts for you… “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”

Oh the joy of discovering the one who knows you intimately loves you completely. Rest in the assurance that “He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Personal Prayer

Father, thank you for the safety and security of being known intimately and loved completely and unconditionally by you. Let the knowledge of your love empower me to live securely and confidently.

Reflection Question

In what ways has Christ demonstrated His understanding of you?

How does Christ’s humanity demonstrate His understanding?

Thought to Ponder

There is no greater human need than to be understood. There is no greater gift than listening in order to understand.

Quote to Consider

What we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we fear more than anything else.

Frederick Buechner

Redefining Fatherhood

November 9, 2010

Suggested Reading

John 17:20-26

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”  John 17:26

Sunday’s sermon stirred a desire for healing in Joyce. She responded to the pastor’s invitation to come up for prayer at the end of the service. Joyce asked me to pray for her emotional healing to overcome the relational scars received by an abusive dad. After praying, Joyce shared that hearing me ask God to become a “father” to her, instead of bringing comfort, unleashed all kinds of ugly childhood memories.

Realizing that Joyce was transferring her experience with her earthly father into her image of her Heavenly Father, I asked a Joyce a few family questions. Upon discovering that Joyce was loved and adored by her grandfather, I suggested she picture her grandfather every time the word father was mentioned. I believed this would help her upgrade from a negative to a positive role model.

What I failed to recognize was as long as earthly people become our point of reference, our definition of father will be skewed. Jesus recognized earthly upgrades are limited and faulty, that’s why He came to demonstrate His Father’s love. My friend didn’t need an earthly example, she needed the ultimate model: the Father’s love demonstrated through Jesus.

Jesus’ words in John 17 express His desire for us to experience the same loving relationship He had with His Father. Christ showed us on Calvary how much our Heavenly Father loved us and what He would pay to have a relationship with us. The love Jesus received from His Heavenly Father was go powerful that He was willing to die in order for us to have this same relationship with His Father.

Now when I pray for people like Joyce who struggle in forming an accurate concept of their Heavenly Father, I direct them to the ultimate model…Jesus.

Personal Prayer

Father, expose and help me release any false beliefs and misperceptions about you. Help me to experience the depth of the loving relationship you desire with me.

Reflection Question

How can we recognize faulty assumptions and beliefs about God?

Thought to Ponder

You can’t trust your father until you know him.

Quote to Consider

“True and proper fatherhood resides in God and from this fatherhood what we know as fatherhood among us men is derived.”

Karl Barth

You Are Not Damaged Goods

September 3, 2010

The Truth:

I am loved and accepted.

I am fully redeemed.

I possess infinite worth.

God’s Word:

He hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine… Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.  Isaiah 43:1, 4 (NIV)

You are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.  Isaiah 41:9-10 (NIV)

The Lie:

I Have No Value.

The Deception:

As A Result My Choices, Decisions, and Circumstances,

I’m Damaged Goods, Worthless, and Disposable

Today’s Reading:

John 4:1-30

Within every human heart is a longing for love, acceptance, significance and value. Tragically, humanity’s fall into sin not only separated us from God, but also introduced evil into our lives. Like Adam and Eve, our attempts to satisfy our desires independently from God, leave us feeling damaged, empty, unloved, and hopeless.

The Samaritan woman’s pursuit for love left her experiencing all these emotions. Her culture and her choices set her up for rejection. Samaritans were dismissed by the Jews and believed to have no value. They considered any vessel handled by a Samaritan unclean and defiled. With a string of five husbands, plus the current lover, this woman’s domestic arrangement was not only culturally unacceptable but unthinkable in the first century. Even the Samaritans discarded her worth and shunned her life-style.

Like the couple in the Garden, her sin sent her into hiding. During the heat of the day, while others found a protective spot away from the open sun, this social outcast emerges to fill her water jar away from the disapproving glances and judgmental stares of others. Her physical body had a better chance of surviving the scorching sun than her heart had in enduring further emotional rejection.

We’ve all made choices we’ve regretted, spoke words we’re unable to take back. The longing for love, and the unloving actions of others and ourselves, make it natural for us to want to hide away from society and from God. Yet, our emotions expose us. There’s no hiding away from the guilt, regret, and our shameful past.

Instead of allowing us to hide away, Christ approaches us. Our sin, not our strong moral character caused Him to come to earth. Like the Samaritan woman, he shares his complete knowledge of our sin thereby inviting us to come out of hiding and into facing our empty pursuit that led us into sin. Christ then invites us to find our acceptance in Him, to embrace the unconditional love from the genuine source, to discover our worth from the one who created us, and to live fully free in his acceptance.  

An encounter with Christ brings more than forgiveness of a sordid past, it births a life impacting discovery of one’s untarnished value and worth before Christ. The result of this kind of love ignites us with boldness and confidence. This woman eagerly returned to the community that shunned her and invited them to come, see, hear, and meet the Promised Messiah. Her acceptance of Christ’s love and forgiveness and the discovery of her identity and purpose in Him, transformed her and sent her out to invite others to discover The Messiah. Within two days, these new converts experienced a deepened discovery of Christ and knowledge of God’s Word that transformed their lives.

Turn today to Christ and turn away from the rejection of others and your own self-rejection. In doing so embrace His acceptance and receive His empowering love.

Personal Prayer

Father, I’m tired of my empty pursuits for love, acceptance, and approval through others. Help me to turn away from false sources and to turn to you. Help me to live in the awareness that your death at Calvary is greater than my past and powerful enough to enable me from this day forth to live a life that glorifies you.

Reflection Questions

How does Christ’s acceptance and redemption help you overcome feelings of guilt, shame, condemnation?

Do you have thoughts of the past or areas of regret that make it challenging to accept Christ’s love and acceptance?

Thoughts to Ponder

Your life has been redeemed.  You may not be walking it out, embracing it, believing it, transformed by it’s truth, nonetheless, you are accepted and have been redeemed.

Until we accept and embrace God’s love, we will not be changed by it.

 Quotes to Consider

“What is notoriously missing from the external, mechanized concept of salvation is self-acceptance, an experience that is internally personalized and rooted in the acceptance of Jesus Christ. It bids good riddance to unhealthy guilt, shame, remorse, and self-hatred. Anything less-self-rejection in any for-is a manifest sign of a lack of trust in the total sufficiency of Jesus’ saving work. He has set me from the fear of the Father and dislike of myself, or has he not?…Unbounded trust in the merciful love of the redeeming God deals a mortal blow to skepticism, cynicism, self-condemnation, and despair.”

Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning pf. 7-9

Approval Addiction

August 13, 2010

For they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of  God. John 12:43 (NASB)

I just made the decision not to view the stats identifying the number of reader clicks on my blog. I’m no longer repeatedly checking in. I’ve stopped until God says to check. I have no idea if God will give me permission to check again in a week, month, year, or ever.

If you’re wondering why I needed to stop, I’ll tell you. When I look to others for my significance, approval, and validation, they become my source of security. Determining my value by the opinions of others is not only risky, it’s a train wreck waiting to happen. This mentality dooms me to living a life of addiction. One needed approval “fix” leads to another and another until my attempts to fill my insecurity with substitutes eventually consumes me.

Until I discover my identity and significance is in God, I literally worship the approval of others. Life as an approval addict breaks the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) There is no biblical support in allowing others to become our source of identity or security.

If God is the source of our life as stated in Genesis 2:7…”The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being,”  then He is also the source of our identity and security. Since God further states, “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved (meaning Jesus),” then the approval of others is a competitor, really a false god, that we allow to replace Christ’s acceptance.

As Sampson needed to kick the harlot out of his bed, even so, I need to kick this approval addiction harlot out of my mind and heart. As addictive behavior occurs little by little, day by day, until patterns become lifestyle habits, I’m beginning daily rehabilitation therapy. I don’t blindly believe that my deliverance will happen in a day, but today my first step in breaking free is refusing to check my number of reader clicks. I’ve decided that instead of working for the approval of others, I’m working for God and that my writing needs to stir from what He gives me and that’s what I’m giving back to Him. Readership needs to become an irrelevant factor in determining my value, significance, or success.

Realizing that no one’s cured in a day, it’s certain that I’ll be writing more about my rehabilitation therapy. Since addictions are commonly experienced by many, but few openly announce their addiction, anyone seeking to break their addiction is welcome to read along. Knowing someone else is pursuing freedom may make you feel less lonely on your freedom journey.

Just understand that, if you chose to travel with me on my blog, I won’t be checking in to see how many are traveling with me. Instead, I’ll be checking in daily with the One who when He breathed life into me, also breathed in my identity which is held secure and protected by His Son.

Your Family of Origin is God: Accept No Substitutes

August 11, 2010

Let “Us” make man (humanity) in our own image, according to our likeness. Gen. 1:26

The words in this verse and their message are beginning to transform my thinking. They are helping me establish what’s at the core of my true identity and what brings me value. As a result, I’m starting to reject false securities that base my identity on anything other that God.

The youngest daughter of a dear friend joined me for dinner last night. It was our first opportunity to meet. My first glance at her brought an immediate image of her mother to mind. This daughter’s dark hair, captivating ebony eyes, and athletically tall and lean body were the spitting image of her mother.

When Satan sees us, it’s the same. He see’s God’s image whenever he sees His children. Because God’s our blueprint, our original cast, we bear His image. God used more than dirt to create us, He used His very own breath. His breath made us alive. God is alive within us and we display His image. Here lies our identity…in God.

We are commonly asked to identify our family of origin, which typically means the human beings God used to transport His children into the world. These family members have a great power to influence along with the culture we grow up in. I don’t want to dismiss the positive impact of our earthly families and culture or negate the wounding and injury they afflict upon our self-esteem. I simply want to invite us to return to the core source of our identity…God.

There’s a danger of looking to others or to ourselves to establish our significance and value. When we discover God created us with value and significance, we stop trying to use our skills and abilities to establish value and significance and instead live with an awareness that we are made in God’s image and allow that image with it’s goodness to flow out to others. In doing so, we stop striving and start living.

Reflection Question:

  • What am I doing to try to earn value or significance?

Prayer:

  • Father, reveal any false securities that I clinging to instead of you? Free me from looking to others or myself for significance or value.

I’m Complete

May 26, 2010

“And in him you have been made complete.” Colossians 2:10 (NASB)

It is God, not others who complete us. Let this become my motto, “I am complete, I will not compete.” You alone, O God, complete me. You give me value, significance, and purpose. Help me not to look to a spouse, family, friends, or achievements to satisfy or fulfill me. This thinking misplaces you and places a heavy and unfair burden on others. It imprisons others with the responsibility of meeting my desires and whims. This is a form of slavery and you paid a heavy price for our freedom.

Although I’m complete in you, that doesn’t dismiss my need for others or make me a lone ranger. As a babe in a manager, you knew what it was like to need others. You valued relationships and paid a high price to restore them. Like you used others in Jesus’, life, you are using others to complete you plans and purposes in me. Help me not to dismiss others but to instead receive their words, insights, and to allow them to provide a picture of how my words, behaviors, and actions impact others.

Thank you that not only am I complete in you, but you’ve promised that you won’t stop working in my earthly life until your work in me is completed on the day that Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6). That’s one incredible promise that I plan to hold onto even on those days when I question if anything valuable was completed.

Breath of Life

May 25, 2010

God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

God, a master artist, picks up a handful of dirt as the first material in his creation. Nothing special about dirt, not an exciting substance with much value. It’s common, easily accessible, and seemingly insignificant. Yet, what happens next is life giving. God breaths his very own breath into the dirt, and humanity is born. We are God-breathed, created in God’s image, his image bearers. When God looks at us he immediately sees his reflection and image.

Somehow, since the fall in the Garden, we’ve lost our ability to see God’s very breath and likeness within us and others. How do I become free from the fallen nature and its faulty misperceptions? How do I flee from the deception Adam and Eve embraced in Eden and return to God’s view of myself and others as gemstones of creation, loved and adored children whose value was established and secured at Calvary. 

How does knowing I’m God’s craftsmanship on display help me fight the tendency to compare and measure my body with today’s cultural values and images? Why do I dislike these curvy hips that make pant shopping such a nightmare? A sales clerk recently observed my frustration and pointing to my hips said to me, “these are your curves, you need to love them.” Was there a message whispered from God to me in her words?

Father, continue to remind me that a common substance such as dirt, when made alive by your breath, reflects your image. Like Adam and Eve, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of looking to sources other than you to find beauty, satisfaction and value. As that deception fills my thoughts, let your truth redirect me to David’s words in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful.”