Our True Identity

I’ve really struggled with low self esteem. Maybe you can relate. I went through the typical teenage akward stage complete with acne, braces and skin as white as Casper the friendly ghost’s. Any unkind comment I heard, I believed and, if someone said I was pretty, I managed to quickly forget that. I’ve now turned 29 several times and I still struggle with feeling like the “ugly duckling”

A kind minister spoke with me about our identity in Christ. Thankfully, the Lord does not see us as we see ourselves. We’re unbelievably valuable to Him, so much so that He was willing to suffer so that we could be healed and become whole.  (See Isaiah 53)

Here’s some of the verses that the pastor gave me and some that I liked as well. I hope they bless you and I would encourage anyone struggling with low self esteem to read the Bible and find passages that encourage you. Words are so powerful, what we think about day after day can have a profound effect on how we feel about ourselves.

We are God’s Works of Art

I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.
-Psalm 139:14

“For you are God’s masterpiece, created in Jesus Christ for good works which God prepared beforehand to be your way of life.”
-Ephesians 2:10

We are God’s Friends

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
– Romans 5:11

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
-John 15:15

We are Chosen

He chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and without fault in His eyes.
-Ephesians 1:4

God has identified us as His own, putting His seal on us, guaranteeing we will be saved on the day of redemption. Therefore, we should not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way we live.
-Ephesians 4:30

We are a New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.
-2 Corinthians 5:17-21

We have a new nature to put on. We are created to be like God, truly righteous and holy. Therefore, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.
-Ephesians 4:23-24

We are Valuable

We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and was given to us by God. We do not belong to ourselves, God bought us with a high price.
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Yet it was our weaknesses Christ carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
-Isaiah 53:4-5

We are God’s Children

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
-Ephesians 1:5

We once had no identity as people, now we are God’s children. We once had received no mercy, now we have received God’s mercy.
-1 Peter 2:10

We are Lights in this Dark World

We were once full of darkness, but now have light from the Lord. So, live as people of the light.
-Ephesians 5:8

In that way, you can prove yourselves to be without blame. You are God’s children and no one can talk against you, even in a sin-loving and sin-sick world. You are to shine as lights among the sinful people of this world.
-Philippians 2:15

We Have the Mind of Christ

For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
-1 Corinthians 2:16

We are Strong Because of God

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
-Philippians 4:13

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
-2 Corinthians 4:7

We are Supermodels in God’s Eyes

Listen to me, O royal daughter; take to heart what I say. Forget the people of the past. For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.
-Psalm 45:10-11

You’re the handsomest of men; every word from your lips is sheer grace, and God has blessed you.
-Psalm 45:2

We are Victorious

We belong to God, we have already won the victory because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
-1 John 4:4

Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loves us.
-Romans 8:37

We are Citizens of Heaven

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
-Philippians 3:20

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory
-.Colossians 3:1-4

Cervical Dysplasia and God’s Grace

Image courtesy of sxc.huWhen I first found out that I had severe cervical dysplasia and needed surgery to prevent it from turning to cancer. I was shocked and scared. I had been celibate for several years and have only slept with one man my entire life – my ex-husband. I didn’t realize how common HPV was and I wasn’t expecting to suddenly have any problems with my celibate lifestyle!

As I was preparing for the upcoming surgery, I opened up my Bible and read Isaiah 43:

Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Shortly after that, a friend happened to e-mail me and ask how I was and through talking, I found out that she was dealing with something sort of similar. We were able to support each other through our struggles. Some wonderful people prayed for me and I made it through the surgery with no complications. I was back to work the next day. My doctor assured me that she got it all and this worked 90% of the time to keep the dysplasia away.

Six months later, I found out that the dysplasia had returned and was severe once again. I was discouraged. I began to wonder if I did something wrong. Did I not get enough sleep? Did I not eat enough vegetables? Is God angry with me? At age 31, I had a hysterectomy to prevent cervical cancer.

I asked God why this was happening to me. I heard a message on the christian radio station, reminding me that life is like embroidery. It may look like a mess on one side, but when you turn it over, it’s something beautiful. Right now, I’m not going to be able to totally understand everything, but it will ok. In fact, it will be something beautiful someday.

The most important thing I take away from going through heartache and pain is that Jesus Christ CHOSE to be wounded so that we could be healed. (See Isaiah 53). He carried our sicknesses and our weaknesses. He went through incredible suffering on the cross so we could be whole. Whenever I start to feel discouraged like God doesn’t care or he’s angry with me, I just need to look at what Jesus was willing to put Himself through to heal me. Whatever happens with our bodies on earth, we will be fully healed and whole in Heaven for sure.

I hope you have been encouraged and blessed. If you want to read more about Christ and being assured of a spot in Heaven, please visit Path to Heaven.

Comfort in the Face of Rejection

ImageI’ve dealt with quite a bit of rejection. It hurts and the really scary thing is I started to believe every unkind word that was ever said to me. Yet I managed to disregard the compliments. That can lead to incredible darkness and depression, trust me. When I see it in other people, it seems so unnecessary and pointless. There’s too many wonderful people out there who feel like freaks because someone else needed to cut them down to make themselves feel better and they bought every lie. 

Other people are not the keeper of the truth. They are just human beings faced with the same inadequacies and heartaches we all go through. I was reading Isaiah 51 in the Bible again today, and if you are struggling with rejection and hurtful comments, this if a great chapter to read.

It comforts me immensely because it puts rejection and scorn in their proper perspective. It says that we don’t have to be afraid of other people’s insults because they’re going to pass away, but God’s righteousness will last and his salvation will go on forever. (Isaiah 51:7-8)

It goes on to say that our current sadness will disappear and we will be filled with joy forever. Then God compassionately reminds us that He, Himself, is the one who comforts us, so we don’t need to be afraid of mere humans who wither like the grass and disappear. (Isaiah 51:11-12)

When we’re feeling alone, when others have rejected or abandoned us, God is still there. Thankfully, He comes to us with open arms even when we’re at our lowest, when we’ve turned our backs on Him and when we’ve done horrible things. He sees us as people of incredible value. 

To read more about your value in God’s eyes, visit “Our True Identity

To read more about beginning a relationship with the God
who’s ready to forgive you, visit “The Path to Heaven

You Are Not Alone

Sometimes, I can start to feel pretty alone and cynical. Not everyone is kind in this world. But what I keep forgetting is that there still are some kind people out there. The Lord has not forgotten us and He can send other people to help us.

I have some stories about times I was a moron and other people and the Lord did come through to help.

One time was when I was on my honeymoon with my ex husband. I had only been married a few days. Neither of us were very fond of the outdoors or insects. So, we were at a big park. I wanted to go into the buggy woods to see the lake and he didn’t. So, we agreed I’d go down the trail a few minutes, see the lake and come right back. Well, I forgot that I had NO sense of direction. I couldn’t find my way back even though it was only a few minutes away. After a half hour of wandering around in the woods, I found my way out. Except that I wasn’t anywhere near where I needed to be. I had no idea how to get from where I was to where he was waiting for me. So, I just kept walking. I walked around in the countryside for hours. Remember – I have no sense of direction. I can’t find my way when it’s a short trail let alone wandering around out in the middle of nowhere! I was praying, hoping God would help me get out of my mess. Eventually I found my way back to the main highway, which in itself was a miracle for me. Unfortunately, I still had no idea how to find my then husband but at least I knew how to get back to the hotel which was many miles away.

At one point, an ambulance came speeding down the highway in the direction I’d been and I thought, “Hmmm. I really hope they aren’t looking for me!” A few minutes later, an ambulance pulled up next to me on the highway and stopped. The driver asked, “Are you _______” And I said, “Yeah, I am” (By now, I’m feeling like a total moron.) The driver replied, “Well, we’ve been looking for you, get in.” So I got in and the ambulance took me to the police station. Then the cop drove me back to the park where my then husband was waiting.

Apparently, some nice people had come to the park about a half hour after I’d gotten lost. They had a cell phone and were able to call for help and comfort my ex who was worried sick. While I was alone and in trouble, those kind people, the local ambulance drivers and police departments were all looking for me. By some miracle – I managed to not trip and hurt myself on the rocky trail. I managed to not run into the wrong people and I managed to find my way to a spot where the search party could find me. I was rained on and tired after hours of walking but I was ok.

Oh no, I’m being a moron again…part #2
Another time, I decided that I could get home on the gas I had in my car. I was wrong. As I was nearing my exit, my car started slowing way down. Stepping on the gas pedal did nothing. I managed to just barely coast onto the exit ramp by driving on the shoulder while annoyed motorists sped by on my left. After I came to a complete stop on the shoulder of the exit, I flipped on my hazard lights, turned my car off and looked for my purse.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten to take my purse that day. It was at home – a few miles away. I had no cell phone, no credit cards. I did find twenty dollars in my car. Halleluiah! I figured I could walk to the nearest gas station, buy a can and walk back. Before I was able to even walk off the exit ramp, two people had rolled down their windows and asked if I needed a ride to the nearest gas station. It wasn’t that far away, so I walked.

But, it was nice to know that there were several people who were willing to help me out in my predicament. When I got back to my car with the gas can, a cop happened to be driving by. He pulled over behind me and put the gas in my car for me. (And speeders can thank me, because while he’s helping me, he’s not out writing tickets!) So, three people stopped to help me in a mess I basically got myself into.

The next morning, my car wouldn’t start on the little bit of gas that was in it. I prayed, “Lord, if you’ll get me to a gas station, I WILL fill it right up this time.” On my second attempt, the engine purred to action (oh, such a beautiful sound) and I drove right to the nearest gas station.

Oh brother… moment #3
I went to the grocery store with my debit card. Unfortunately, the pin for the card wasn’t working anymore. I didn’t have a backup plan. (I know, big mistake). The store didn’t accept credit cards, so they couldn’t run it through without the pin. My cash was at home. I asked them to hold onto my groceries while I went home and got some money.

As I was walking out into the parking lot, feeling pretty down for a number of reasons, I heard a woman behind me call out “Mam…” I turned around and she said she would like to pay for my groceries for me. Wow. I was amazed by such kindness. I wouldn’t let her because I’m stubborn. But, it really meant something to me to have someone be so kind and concerned about someone else. That was a gift to me that was greater than the money she could have given me.

If you’re feeling alone, take heart. It’s ok to reach out. There are many kind people out there, please don’t let those who aren’t discourage you. I hope these stories also help people to know they are not alone when they feel like morons or get themselves into a big mess. I know all about that! And remember – God can send US to be his angels to help others when they are in distress.

Receiving a Harvest of Blessings

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. – Galations 6:9

Do you ever get discouraged trying to do the right thing? I was struck reading the first chapter of Luke the other day. Elizabeth and Zechariah were both very focused on living a good life. Verse 1:6 says they were “righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all the commandments”

What amazes me is that they had been through a huge disappointment. They had been unable to have children for many years. In those days, being childless was seen as a huge shame, sort of a curse from God for bad living. I can imagine their heartache. Hoping and praying for a child month after month, year after year. Living the best life they can, serving God with all their heart. They certainly deserved to be blessed with a child. And yet, they grow very old and God still hasn’t answered their prayers. That’s enough to discourage anyone, maybe even enough to make us want to totally give up on God. Here’s the part that amazes me – neither one of them gives up on life or on God. They keep going, serving God and listening to His commandments day after day for many years.

Then one day, an angel comes to Zechariah and says

“Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord.” (Luke 1:13-15). 

God saw that they were really something when no one else did

John is born. Elizabeth and Zechariah are rewarded for many years of patiently serving God despite their hardships and shame. Honestly, I’m not as patient as they are. I get frustrated when things don’t make sense and it feels like God isn’t answering desperate prayers. In the end of this story, God made it clear that He did hear Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers. (Luke 1:13). He brought them great joy and gave them the honor of raising John the Baptist, the man who would lead many to God and prepare the way for the Messiah’s coming.  The people around them may have looked at them as disgraced and cursed by God for many years. They waited so long – not because they were cursed but because God saw them as extremely valuable. He waited to give them a miracle and to give them the responsibility of parenting a child who would be a prophet and one of the greatest men who ever lived.

Keep going when it feels like the good you do isn’t being rewarded yet. Keep going when it feels like your prayers bounce off the ceiling. Keep going when people mock you and when you’re ashamed. Those people don’t really know you. But God does. You’re great in His eyes and it may be that you’re waiting so long because God has something really incredible planned for you.

Beating the Blues

I wanted to share an exercise that can be helpful for easing blue moods. I got this from a sermon at my church. Don’t worry though, I’m not going to write a novel with this post or beat you over the head with the gospel. (However, if you would like to be beaten upside the head with the gospel, please let me know, I’d be happy to help you out with that). Anyway, since this is the cliff notes version of the exercise, click this link if you want the full version.  I literally go through this exercise with a pen and paper, focusing on  the following four things:

1) Focus on God’s Promise

Many Bibles have a topical index that can be helpful in finding verses that speak to your specific situation. If you don’t have a Bible, http://www.biblegateway.com is a great free way to read the Bible online and it contains a keyword search. Spend some time thinking on that verse and focusing on that promise rather than on the circumstances or on your feelings.

2) Focus on God’s Presence

Even when you dont feel His presence, He is there. It doesnt change the reality of His Word. Focus on the fact that God is with you. I find it helpful to imagine him holding my hand and putting his arm around me. There’s scriptures that vividly describe God’s presence with us.

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you,  ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. -Isaiah 41:13

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.
– Deuteronomy 33:27a

But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. – 2 Timothy 4:17

3) Focus on God’s Purpose

I say, How can I accomplish Gods purpose in this adversity I find myself in? Here in this dark period, this winter period of my life, how can Gods purposes still be accomplished in me? What is He trying to teach me? What is He trying to show me? What can I learn? How can I grow? How can I use what Ive learned for Him in this winter period of my life? Asking these questions sounded like a lot of work to me at first. But, I get tired of the alternative (worrying, wallowing).

4) Focus on God’s Power

Remember, you won’t always be suffering through this situation. We’re promised that the problems we’re going through now are nothing compared to the joy awaiting us in Heaven (2 Corinthians 4:17Romans 8). There will come a day when we’re glad we grew and served God, because that brings rewards that last. (James 1:2-4Luke 6:38). The Lord promises to rescue us and bring us safely home to Him. His power will ultimately triumph over this situation.

Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
-2 Timothy 4:18

I hope that going through this exercise makes a difference in how you feel and that it gives you a fresh perspective. I wish you many blessings.

*Note: if you suffer from clinical depression, please don’t feel bad if you need to take a pill or go to counseling. 

I found some comfort and hope when Christ found me. To learn more about beginning a relationship with God and going to Heaven, please visit The Path to Heaven.

Purity

As a divorced woman, sexual purity wasn’t exactly the best news. Who does want to think about not getting any for a loooooooong time – if they do dare to remarry?

I’ve heard many who have struggled with this issue. A lot of people almost feel like they HAVE to sleep with their significant other in this day and age. Or else that person might leave them for someone less old fashioned.

I can empathize. When I was dating my ex-husband, I had made up my mind to wait for marriage. But I was tempted and I was afraid of losing him. So I compromised. I thought like Bill Clinton. I figured as long as we didn’t go all the way, we could fool around and it would be okay.

We eventually got married. Then all the marriage troubles started. Being with someone who didn’t share the same beliefs wasn’t working out for either of us. I ended up losing him to divorce. The headaches and heartache were incredible.

I truly believe now that even fooling around before marriage is so not worth it. I now look at waiting as a test of someone’s love and commitment for me. If I was going to make a commitment to someone for the rest of my life, I would definitely want that person to believe I’m valuable enough to wait for.

And in God’s eyes, I am so incredibly valuable, there’s no question I’m worth the wait. And you are too. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I know the whole purity thing is never easy and relationships and marriage aren’t exactly a walk in the park either. I find comfort knowing Jesus walked through temptation and suffering (Luke 4:1-13, Isaiah 53). He does understand. He is more than willing to help when we’re hurting (Hebrews 4:15-16) When I’m discouraged, I also try to remember the hope God has planned for me. There are many promises in scripture that remind us what we’re suffering now is nothing compared to the blessings God has in store for us. (Romans 8;18, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Jeremiah 29:11, Zechariah 9:12, Psalm 16:11, 1 Corinthians 2:9, John 10:9-10).

I hope you have a blessed day.If you want to know more about your value to God, check out Path to Heaven and Our True Identity.

You are So Beautiful in God’s Eyes

In 2004, Dove released a study regarding women’s opinions on beauty. In this study only TWO percent of women described themselves as beautiful. Two percent. If you feel unattractive, you are not alone. I also struggle with feelings of unattractiveness.

God, however, sees us drastically different from the way we see ourselves:
– He chose us to be holy and without fault in His eyes (Ephesians 1:4)
– In Him, we will blossom like the lily (Hosea 14:5)
– The Lord will rescue His people. We will sparkle in His land, like jewels in a crown (Zechariah 9:16)
– We are God’s masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10)
– We are amazingly and miraculously made (Psalm 139:14 God’s Word Translation)
– Forget the people of the past. Your royal husband delights in your beauty. Honor Him for He is your Lord. (Psalm 45:11)
– To Him, we are beautiful beyond words (Song of Songs 4:1)
– We have captured His heart as His treasure, His bride (Song of Songs 4:9)
– As His bride and princess, we look glorious (Psalm 45:13-15)
– We are His special possession, that He will never abandon (Psalm 94:14)

Christ understands what it’s like to feel like He doesn’t fit into prescribed, narrow views of beauty:
– There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. (Isaiah 53:2)

It may sound cleshe but there are internal qualities that influence a person’s attractiveness:
– Loyalty makes a person attractive (Proverbs 19:22)
– Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful face on an empty head. (Proverbs 11:22, The Message)
– Make yourself attractive by the good things you do (1 Timothy 2:10)
– Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
– Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

It also helps me to remember that this body I live in is only temporary. Someday, we will all have amazing new bodies in Heaven:
– When this earthly tent is taken down, we will have an eternal body made for us by God himself. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
– When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. (1 Corinthians 15:36-37)
– Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. (1 Corinthians 15:43)
– Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.(1 Corinthians 13)

I would encourage you to read through the Bible, try to see yourself through God’s eyes. You don’t have to cut yourself down or believe any lies about yourself. You are so much more than what others have said about your and you are much, much more than the narrow mold society tries to squeeze you into.

Do you ever struggle with doubts about whether or not you’re going to Heaven? I have too.
This article does a good job of explaining how to know for sure: http://www.insight.org/library/articles/how-to-know-god/relationship-with-god.html