Thursday, July 27, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Importance Of Gathering

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching." -Hebrews 10:24-25

For the past 4-5 weeks I've been skipping out on church Sunday mornings. Lately, I've been making a habit of not going to bed on time due to staying up so late at night. I'm a night owl, so I like to get things done while it's dark. By the time I wake up, it's already noon. Well, last Sunday I woke up just before 9:30 am. That's the time I usually attend Sunday's class. But instead of rushing out the door, I lay my head back on the pillow and snoozed. I thought to myself that it didn't matter since I can watch the service at a later time when it gets posted. 

There are lots of people, and perhaps even you, who'll say, 

"I don't have to go to church today. I can simply read the Bible and pray at home."

"I can just watch the service online."

"Why even go? The church is full of hypocrites." 

In the New Testament, church isn't an option for genuine Christ-followers. We are given a command to not forsake assembly with one another. Even if a brother or sister rubs us the wrong way or hurts our feelings. We are the body of Christ for better or worse. 

In this fast paced society we trade weekly attendances to watch tv, get extra sleep, or have weekend getaways. And feel like we're "good Christians" when we can listen to a sermon online or sing along to a worship song because we think it's enough to sustain our faith. But it isn't. 

Now unless you have physical limitations or are confined to bed by an illness, then praise God for blessing you with ministries from the internet, radio, and television to build your faith in His Word. But if you're healthy and able to commit to church, then there's no excuse to not gather whether it's in your living room, a friend's house, or an auditorium someplace. After all, the church isn't just a building but is made up of believers who desire to love and serve God wholeheartedly. 

As Christians, part of our responsibility is to be united with other believers as one family. To minister and work together in a community. By utilizing and sharpening our gifts, we contribute to helping our brothers and sisters stay strong in the faith. That's how we grow stronger and effectively pour into others. 

One cannot expect to live out the faith in isolation. When that happens, you succumb to being enticed by your own desires that are not from God. Setting the stage for false teachers to come in and deceive you with dangerous teachings. "You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability."-(2 Peter 3:17). If I have to be honest, my faith has been getting rusty. My complacency has been increasing and my desire to be fed and nourished by God's Living Word is slowly losing its appetite. And I'm afraid it will only get worse if I don't do something right now to fix my stupid immature habit. 

So, if this is you as well, then may we be wise and carefully heed the Scriptures that exhort us to remember the importance of gathering in fellowship, so that we will be active participants in blessing, encouraging, and reprimanding in truth and love as the "day" is drawing closer. 

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household."-Ephesians 2:19

"If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."-1 Corinthians 12:26

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Tragic Road To Recovery

Cory Monteith was a Canadian actor whose most notable role was Finn Hudson, an all-star quarterback from the hit show Glee on Fox Television. A musical comedy series centered on teenage misfits who join a choir group called Glee club. There, they discover acceptance, strength, and ultimately their voice while pursuing their dreams in the real world.

His humility and palpable sweetness set the tone for the wide-eyed heartthrob character Finn. He was well respected and adored by his co-stars, friends, and a multitude of fans. However, nobody was prepared for the tragedy that happened on July 13th, 2013. Cory died of a toxic overdose from a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol inside his hotel room in Vancouver. The news of his death shook his fan base and everyone close to him, especially his fiancĂ©e Lea Michele who played Rachel Berry (Finn's lover) on Glee. A tribute episode was made in memory of him titled "The Quarterback" where fans could mourn with the cast over his death.

Cory had been battling substance abuse since the age of 13 and dropped out from school at 16. His heavy addiction landed him into rehab at 19 after family and close friends intervened. After the stint, he continued the path of his addiction by stealing money from a family member. Once given the ultimatum of getting clean or going to jail, he chose the highway to becoming sober. He took acting classes and focused on rebuilding his life as he made concerted effort to stay sober. His greatest accomplishments later on was earning his high school diploma and casting his role on Glee.

Unfortunately, his turning point was tragically short lived after completing another stint in March. On Friday July 12th, he went out with his friends and returned to his hotel room alone Saturday morning. Later at noon on Saturday, the 31 year old talented actor was found dead in his room.

In a candid interview, Cory revealed why he started using drugs. He said,

"It was about finding a place. For me, it wasn't about the substance per se, it was about not fitting in. I hadn't found myself at all. I had no idea who I was. I had no idea where I was going. Then all of a sudden, I had this thought that I was going to be this "bad" kid. So that all the other kids will look at me and think "Oh, he's the bad kid, he's cool." And so then they'll want to hang out with me."

Peer pressure and a desire to fit in can heavily influence teenagers into using drugs because of the challenges presented during those years as they're transitioning into a season of discovering who they are and what social groups they belong to. Other risk factors that increase the likelihood of drug use are genetics, a community where drug accessibility is high, and parents using or condoning the use of drugs.

Some adolescents use drugs as a coping mechanism for high levels of stress or problems within their home. Others use it to get high, relieve boredom, or just out of curiosity.

A study in 2014 reported, "an estimated 2.7 percent of American adolescents ages 12 to 17 suffered from alcohol dependence or abuse, and 3.5 percent suffered from drug dependence or abuse."(DrugRehab)

Research has shown that the earlier onset of drug or alcohol use, the greater the person will develop a substance addiction. Teens are more prone to addiction because their brains aren't fully developed compared to adults. The parts of the brain that control emotion, coordination, and motivation develop more rapidly than the parts in charge of logic and reasoning. Teens often try to appear cool and mature hence why they don't consider the risks involving drugs and alcohol too well.

Something to remember is that "cells that fire together wire together." The brain has a complex network of neuron (nerve cells) pathways that transmit communication signals to one another. It does so by releasing a chemical (neurotransmitter) for the other cell to absorb and pass on to other cells, and as they communicate frequently, the connection grows stronger. When they travel on the same neural pathway over and over, they transmit messages faster and faster, creating this automatic loop that plays itself on repeat. Basically the more we repeat a thought or activity, the more entrenched the pathways form in our brain which creates a habit that goes into autopilot mode. Making it very difficult to break a habit or addiction. The difference between a habit and addiction is that habits can be positive or negative, while addiction is only negative. This process is the same for ALL addictions.

Drugs affect the pathways involving reward, triggering higher levels of dopamine flooding the brain circuits. Dopamine is a molecule that plays a role in reward-motivated behavior. It's present in the region of the brain that regulates emotions and feelings of pleasure. Our brains are wired to reinforce an activity by connecting experiences with reward. When excessive amounts of dopamine is released into the brain, the chemicals disrupt the neuron channeling, greatly amplifying the message to want more. 

Thus, another chemical called DeltaFosB will take the wheel. DeltaFosB is a transcription factor that binds the genes and acts as a light switch for addiction, turning them on or off. Dopamine acts as the head command center, giving out the order "This is great! I want more!" And DeltaFosB carries it out. The thing with DeltaFosB is that it alters the gene responses and accumulates lasting, physical changes to the brain. Creating more pathways for the cells to fire and rewire so that it will remember and repeat the experience. Once early drug conditioning has been activated, it'll stay that way and doesn't go away easily. Even long after the dopamine surge vanishes, the pathways will remain right where they left off. People are more likely to use an established path even when they don't want to because it's familiar. That's the number one reason drug addicts relapse after years of being sober.

Now, nobody is far too gone to overcome addiction. By the grace of God, you have the power to beat this enemy and win. But it doesn't mean it'll be an easy road to recovery. God will heal, but the consequences will remain. You'll still have to fight the cravings those pathways have led to, but if you truly acknowledge and pray for deliverance from those oppressed chains, God will set you free from the sin and bondage. 

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." -(John 8:36)

You are stronger than your addiction. If you're a child of God, then the Holy Spirit already resides in you and gives you the grace and ability to not let your addiction and appetites control you. For sin no longer has dominion over you. 

"For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." -(Romans 6:14)

If you’re not a child of God, meaning you don’t have a saving relationship with Him, please know that your life is worth more than selling it away to drugs and foolishness. Drugs can never make you feel whole and complete. It is only through a surrendered life to Christ, you will find true freedom, healing, acceptance, and purpose. You were bought at an immeasurable price shed by the blood of Jesus at Calvary. Don’t exchange the price you were paid for towards something shallow and a counterfeit only to make you feel more empty, lost, and ashamed. There is forgiveness found when you lay down your burdens and shame at His feet. He has the power to wash away your sins as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) If you'd really like to know about God and how to be set free, follow this link below:

How To Know God Personally

STAY AWAY from toxic people and influences that’ll fuel your addiction. There are tons of treatment centers you can go to get serious help in this area. Visit this website {here} for more information and rehabilitation services in your area. 

I don't know whether Cory knew Jesus or not but needless to say, his death speaks loudly that this can happen to anyone. Thus it is important to stay informed on this topic and educate the minds of this generation to understand the harms and consequences of chronic drug use. Not just for their well-being, but also for their eternity as well.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Idol Of Marriage

I once heard that it's every girl's dream to get married someday. To have a doting husband, start a family, and live happily ever after like how Disney movies or fairy tale books portray it. So many girls fantasize about their perfect, dream wedding and the exchangement of vows followed by a passionate, heartfelt kiss sending sparks flying into the night. Girls are basically programmed to just love being in love. I see it a lot when they're gushing over their crushes or boyfriends saying, "awww" in unison, which I can't help but cringe at because it's like nails on a chalkboard for me. It's the same when a cheesy love scene between two actors appear on screen, the reaction from them doesn't fail.

There's nothing wrong with being in love. Love is great. Love is wonderful. But what is it that makes women so attracted to love in the first place? Is it compliments from guys telling her she's beautiful, even on her worst days? Soppy love scenes from chick flick movies? Mushy and lame sweet talk from guys calling them, "baby" "honey" or "angel"?

Many single women jump at every chance to date a guy and the very next day, they're already planning their wedding and future with him in their minds. Leaving them quite vulnerable to the players and losers taking advantage of her emotions for their personal gratification. Some women don't even consider the prospect most of the time and end up falling into the same trap again and again.

Our society has this terribly shallow view that if you're not married in a certain time frame, something is horribly wrong with you or you're secretly in love with the same sex. Which puts a lot of pressure to find the right mate. I think it especially rings true for women whose female friends and younger sisters are tying the knot and settling down while they're still a bachelorette past the age of 25. Most of us get bitter and upset with God for not giving us our heart's desire and give up altogether.

The problem is that marriage gets placed on a pedestal above God. It's worshiped as an idol. It's perfectly ok to want a Godly husband whose heart is completely devoted to God and a tidy, decorated home to look after, but is our desire for those bigger than our desire for God?

You see, a lot of us assume that we'll get what we want based on one of the most misconstrued Bible verses, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."-Psalm 37:4

This is not implying that if we study our Bibles, pray, attend church on Sunday, give our possessions to the needy, serve others, dress modestly, and don't curse, then God will suddenly give us a handsome, Godly man out of nowhere as a token of His appreciation. That's not how it works. God isn't going to be manipulated by our trying efforts.

I'm not saying we shouldn't do those things, because we ought to be loving the Lord and serving Him regardless if we're married or single, since God doesn't guarantee giving you a husband.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is saying that unmarried people, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, can focus more on solely devoting themselves to the Lord, since they have more freedom to focus on seeking the kingdom and ministering to others. It makes sense after all because married people have a spouse to look after with possible children to care for as well. Paul explains that singleness is an incredible and wonderful privilege to serve God with undivided attention. In other words, he's telling singles it's a PERFECT opportunity to get busy winning lost souls. Not a curse to be "forever alone."

Married couples play a part in the kingdom as well. Marriage is a beautiful representation of the union between Christ and His church. When both spouses come together under Christ's lordship, they further His kingdom with individual purposes to create a greater mission of advancing the gospel.

Marriage doesn't exist solely to make you happy or feel whole. Ask any married couple out there and they will tell you it's not all fun and games. It's hard work. Healthy and strong marriages don't build overnight. It's something you grow into through a continual process of sacrifice, commitment, and sanctification. It's a team effort resulting in putting one before the other (Philippians 2:3) and aligning their marriage to God's purpose. If you marry with a mindset of "me before you" the result will be an unhappy marriage and your happily ever after turns into your worst nightmare. Marriage is a ministry designed to share Christ, where a man and a woman find purpose in uniting together to be stronger in carrying that mission out. Selfishness and pride will wreck the ministry before it even starts.

I think the most important question to consider is, "Why do I want to get married in the first place?" Is it to make me feel good about myself? Is it so I can blend in with all my friends who are getting married?

I can remember my high school years where some of the girls gave me weird looks because I didn't date anyone. I've never had a boyfriend. Some of them even thought I was a psycho because I wasn't as interested in dating or marriage like they desperately were. So part of me felt like I was abnormal. As I got older, I started to crave marriage, being a homemaker, and raising kids because I thought it would make me feel more fulfilled. I didn't want to be left out.

Ladies, your ultimate identity isn't found in a ring and a paper. It is found in Jesus Christ alone. You don't NEED a man in your life to complete you. Jesus did that for you on the cross. Your singleness can portray the gospel very powerfully when you choose to let Christ be your all.

You can still go on dates and pursue marriage. Just let go of this idolizing obsession with marriage and remember why you're wanting to marry in the first place. In the meantime, keep yourself busy with serving and witnessing to your friends, neighbors, families, and strangers. Living each day with the intent of being holy for the sake of the world and the gospel. Seek God first and in everything you do and God will take care of the rest.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Trials Produce Character

You know, everything happens for a reason. Every trial you face, every experience that you've encountered whether they be good, bad, awkward, silly, confusing, embarrassing, etc. They all play a vital role in your life, I believe it has to do with developing or reshaping your unique character. Another thing it has led me to realize is that every situation I come across leads me to want to pursue a closer relationship with GOD. It is a challenge we often face, but the more we journey on to face these challenges and let God behind the steering wheel at all times; the more it produces and reshapes our Godly character. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Self-Pity Christian

One of the things that I absolutely dislike is the attitude of self-pity. The "woe is me" garbage induced by life not being all rainbows and unicorns or milkshakes and fries(to each their own). As former queen of self-pity, I know all too well what it's like to sit around sulking and complaining when things don't go your way. But I know I wasn't the only one. So many are infected with this disease and it permeates the mind, releasing this pungent odor stained with bitterness, negativity, and misery in our attitude and behavior. The problem with this stench is that it doesn't go away very easily and can leave an imprint on anyone it comes into contact with. In order to treat this malady, we have to understand self-pity for what it really is.

Oswald Chambers said in one of his devotionals from his book, My Utmost For His Highest, that self-pity is satanic. When we stop to think about it, he couldn't be further from the truth! Self-pity is truly satanic because we make the focus entirely about ourselves when we feel mistreated, lonely, inadequate, and feeling sorry for ourselves in any way or form when we don't get our way. It is a passive-aggressive form of pride that steals trust and glory in the LORD and places them on ourselves. Anytime our focus on the LORD gets taken away, it does absolutely more harm than good. It leaves us feeling more bitter, depressed, unthankful, and pessimistic.

The reason it's so difficult to combat is because self-pity comes naturally to all of us. We're all prone to having pity parties thanks to our human sin nature. It takes a lot more effort to overcome it than to indulge in it. So how do we overcome this vile, putrid smell passing through our nostrils? Focus on the Lord and what He has done for us instead.

By asking God to increase awareness of our sinful nature and surrendering ourselves-thoughts, feelings, and attitudes to the Cross and letting Him replace them with His nature-mindset and attitude, we gain more awareness of Christ within us and desire to serve and obey Him. We mustn't let ourselves be deceived into thinking that we don't need Christ in all areas of our lives. That our own common sense and logic is sufficient. It's not. We are rotten and defiled to the very core, and our logic and wisdom no matter how superficial or profound it is, it is terribly imperfect and finite compared to the perfect wisdom of God. To assume that our thinking is greater than God's shows mere arrogance and disbelief.

Let's see what the Bible says about arrogance and unbelief.

"Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe."-Proverbs 28:26

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."-Hebrews 11:6

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."-James 4:6

God won't cater to our pity pouts when we don't get our way. So don't expect Him to be manipulated by your "poor me" excuses as an attempt to get what you want. God's not stupid. He sees right through it. Throw your petty temper tantrums all you want, it won't get you anywhere except a miserable attitude. It's your choice to stay in that rut. Just remember the consequences it'll have in the long run should you choose to stay there.

Anytime you are tempted to run in the direction of self-pity, turn to the Word of God and rebuke the selfishness and idolatry self-pity carries. An older and mature woman of God suggested reading 1 Peter and chapters 3 and 4 of Philippians when we start slipping into the pity party mode. If you're wise and willing, you'll greatly benefit from it. If not, scroll back to the top of this post and read it again. :)

"God must increase, but I must decrease."-John 3:30

Friday, June 23, 2017

Feeling Trapped

If you're reading this, then most likely you feel the same way I feel. Or have felt this way at some point. Being stuck in a situation where you have very little to no control over. For me, it was being sheltered by my overprotective parents, namely my mom. I couldn't hang out with my friends outside of school, even on weekends. Whether it was going to the movies with them, the mall, sleepovers, pretty much anywhere. I'm not trying to say it's wrong of them to want to keep me safe. I understood they had good intentions, even if they did appear to go overboard. They just didn't want me to fall under any sort of bad influence. But when it came to my feelings, especially as a teenager, I viewed it as torture. I wasn't rebellious to them, but I didn't handle the situation very wisely either. Instead I kept it all in, despite my friends teasing me about my sheltered life in school, looks of curiosity like I was a strange animal, secret laughters and conversations behind my back, maybe you can't relate or understand, but it wasn't pleasant.

I felt like it didn't matter what I tried or could try, because it wasn't going to change my parents mind regardless. I gave up and threw pity parties. It was the easiest way I knew how to handle the situation. Whine, cry, and complain passively. And in ways I still do that. When I was in college, I actually thought I'd have more freedom to hang out with whomever, but it wasn't the case at all. I still wasn't allowed to drive even though I have a license, I couldn't move out and get a job while attending school because of my limitations and failings. My parents know me well enough to realize there's a lot I can't do on my own, so I'm still depending on them.

It's still difficult at times as I look around me and see people having the freedom to hang out with friends, travel, and do other things I'm unable to do. Or overhear a conversation between friends chattering about what they did over the weekend, etc. Questions such as "Why couldn't I be wired differently?" "Why can't I have more freedom to do what I want?"  "Why am I placed here, trapped by circumstances that I can't maneuver?" Appear in my mind. It gets worse when I'm scrolling through social media. Seeing pictures and updates of people having a great time outdoors or with a circle of friends, produces envy, jealousy, and bitterness. It's not as bad as it used to be, but they'll show up time and again.

If you're feeling really trapped beneath obstacles, whatever they are, the only encouragement I can give you is that you're not alone. It doesn't seem that way at times, but you're really not. Perhaps you've heard that so often, you've grown numb to it. When the feelings of "missing out" grabs hold of us, it's almost effortless to feel sorry for ourselves. Self-pity comes naturally to all of us. It takes more effort to look on the bright side of things no matter how dismal life can be. Of course, I'd be dead wrong for saying that my example is the worst kind of suffering on the planet. My petty problems don't even compare to the suffering of others. Yet I won't discount that life isn't fair. Since we live in a sinful world (thanks to Adam and Eve) things are pretty messed up. Though we may not be able to remove our circumstances, we can however choose to overcome the feelings of self-pity and sadness through {counting our blessings} and remembering that our problems are just temporary.

Find a way to keep yourself busy to distract you from the problem. You could take a break from social media and curl up with a good book to read. Or turn on some classical or jazz music and close your eyes as you listen. Serving people through volunteering at church, a food bank, or local hospital is great way to minimize the focus off of your problems. If you don't have reliable transportation or your parents won't let you, consider ways to serve people via internet. Find some Christian forums on the web or start a blog to post Scriptures, devotional readings, sermons, or encouragement.

I consider it a privilege to have the luxury of writing blog posts to share with others for the time being. Despite being stuck at home a lot aside from attending school or working someplace. Just having a positive mindset can make a difference in your attitude. It's something you have to be willing to work on. Otherwise you'll just weep in the corner.

Don't give up and lose hope. Someday as you look back on this, you'll either realize that it wasn't so bad after all, or you'll regret on not making the most of your situations. Hopefully it'll be the former. :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Short Testimony

I didn't grow up in a Christian home environment, my mom doesn't know the Lord and my dad is very lukewarm in his faith, he'll occasionally talk about God but refuses to live out the truth. When I was 14, I had some questions about God and salvation so my dad took me to see his co-worker who's a very devout Christian to answer any questions I had, which I honestly don't remember his replies except for being asked to pray a prayer accepting Jesus into my heart. After praying that, I "felt" like I was saved but I wasn't displaying any fruitful evidence throughout the years, God was more of an afterthought to me and I used Him as a get out of hell free card.

When I went to college I was going through personal life issues and questioning my identity and purpose. I hit rock bottom and blamed it all on God, causing me to "renounce" my faith and live in perpetual sin. I heavily wrestled with God afterwards and He made me realize that I wasn't truly saved since I didn't know what I was doing, so after feeling intense sorrow and disgusted with my sin that He showed me, I repented and recommitted to making Him Lord and Savior of my life.

It's very crucial to understand that praying a simple prayer doesn't save you, neither does relying on your feelings when you pray, it is understanding that you are a sinner separated from God and that His Son Jesus gave His life for you on the cross to reconcile your relationship with Him. By trusting in Jesus Christ alone to save you as a result of His undying love for you and admitting that you are a sinner needing a savior to rescue you from your sins and accepting His Lordship in your life, you become a child of God covered by His grace and enter an exciting, new, ongoing relationship with God now throughout eternity.

It's not going to be easy, but it'll all be worth it as long as you keep your eyes focused on Jesus and living your life to please and serve Him out of reverence, not terror. Find a good, solid, Bible teaching church to help you grow in your faith and walk it out to be a light for others so that they will want to know God too.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."-John 3:16

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."-Ephesians 2:8-9

"It is good and pleasing in God's sight, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all."-1 Timothy 2:4-5

If you'd like to read more of my testimony in depth, click on this link: It Will Get Better+Testimony

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Identity In Christ+Armor Of God

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." -1 Peter 5:8.

Our adversary the devil is on the prowl attacking Christians left and right. He will do all he can to get you to doubt God’s love for you, his tactic is to destroy you so that you won’t make a difference in God's kingdom. One of his most common methods is attacking your worth and identity. BUT, that’s only if you allow him. So many Christians are struggling to have a grasp on their identity and value. We allow circumstances, people's opinions, and our struggles define our worth. In order to fight off the enemy's schemes, we MUST know what the Word says about who we are in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 6:10-17 talks about putting on the armor of God. Before we can do that however, we have to be confident and secure in who we are in Christ first. You can’t jump right into calculus without first learning the basics of adding, subtracting, multiplication and division. That’s exactly how this principle works too. You can’t put on God’s armor without having a solid foundation in Christ. It won’t work. You’ll get pulverized if you try to. Every time you hear or are tempted to believe a lie contrary to the Word, take it captive and make it submit to Christ(2 Corinthians 10:5). Speak it out loud or write it in a journal. DO NOT rely on what your "feelings" tell you. They can be very misleading.(Jeremiah 17:9) My prayer for you is that you will consistently work on building a habit of understanding and growing in the knowledge of Jesus and let Him define your identity and help others do the same. Here are some freebies to help with that.

Embrace who you are and wear God's armor. The battle has just begun.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Building Christ-like Character

In addition to my previous posts, Soaking In God's Word and Abiding In Christ, I want to focus briefly on building character traits that every person who identities as a Christ follower should exhibit in their daily lives.

As Christians, we are called to be an example to everyone around us. Our families, friends, neighbors, and strangers we encounter whether it's at school, the gas station, grocery store, shopping centers, library etc. To witness God's love as a bright, shining light in this dark, sinful world. 

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."-Matthew 5:14-16

But before we can be a beacon to others, we have to examine our lives first. As sinful humans by nature, we're constantly waging war with the Holy Spirit. "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do."-Galatians 5:17

If we truly claim to be born again children of God, then we should desire to do His perfect will, but more than that, actually commit to living it out. If we really love God, our willingness to obey should overpower any resistance our flesh has with His perfect plans. The problem however is that we're not spending enough time with God like we desperately should. Instead we allow ourselves to succumb to the vast and irresistible temptations of our human nature.

Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

I don't know how this Scripture can get anymore clearer than that. If we're serious about making changes to please God out of reverence, not obligation, we have to renew our minds. Where our mind is, our actions follow. It's that simple.

What are the natural inclinations of the fleshly body? Selfishness, greed, lust, impurity, fornication, pride, idolatry, envy, strife, bitterness, debauchery (Mark 7:20-23, Colossians 3:5).

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."-Galatians 5:22-23

So there you have it. Living out the fruits of the Spirit takes intentionality, effort, and persistence. A seed doesn't plant without being watered and absorbed by sunlight. The best teacher and role model to learn from is Jesus. He not only taught how to live but He also lived it out. As we read more about Him in the Word, we'll have a better understanding of how to live like Him. When we strive to be more like Christ every day, our lives will naturally mirror those characteristics in abundance. (Philippians 3:7-11, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 3:2)

I found this lovely chart that serves as an excellent guide to build and foster character qualities in Christ. This chart has 49 Christ-like attributes. Take one attribute to focus on each month and implement ways to live it out for that month. I think it's best to discuss this in a group. Or with a mentor/accountability partner. It can also be done individually. But by no means should you neglect prayer and faithful devotions in the Word. May we too strive to demonstrate the love and humility Christ lived while we still have time left on earth.

You can view the chart {here}

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Abiding In Christ

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."-John 15:1-5

A girl asked me what it means to abide in Christ and what that looks like in our lives.

And I told her that to me, abide means to dwell in His presence through filling our minds with His Word, trusting Him, and letting Him transform our hearts to be more like His. It's a continual act of surrendering ourselves to Him on a daily basis.

The more we remain firmly rooted and established in Christ (Ephesians 3:14-19; Colossians 2:7) by saturating ourselves in His Word (Psalm 1:2-3; Psalm 119:15-16) the more we reflect His Christlike nature through our words and actions.

Thought this was something good to ponder on.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Soaking In God's Word

I won't lie. When it comes to doing my daily devotions in the Word, I don't always commit to it. I'm going through the Gospel of Luke right now, and more than once, I'll get distracted by other things and not "feel" like continuing where I left off. Then when I realize that I neglected to read the Bible, I'll let guilt consume me and put my Bible away. Honestly, you will have those moments where you just really don't want to spend time in God's Word. But if you don't ever read and study it, you won't grow spiritually and instead be drifting backwards. Thus, leaving you unfulfilled and slowly be unproductive in bearing fruit for God's kingdom. In order to maintain consistent fruit in your life, one must stay hidden in the Word.

As I was tempted to throw in the towel again, I shook off my unwillingness and read a portion of the Psalms and Proverbs. Using highlighters and colored pencils to mark certain words and a pencil to underline and circle phrases that jumped out at me. It was a beautiful time of soaking in the amazing truths I learned. I felt rejuvenated and vigorous. :D

My suggestion to you if you're struggling to stay in God's Word is to read the Psalms or Proverbs. Study and meditate on the beautiful prayers or wisdom gleaned through those passages. Personalize them into prayers or poetry. Maybe even a prayer/poem. James is another good place to start. But to each their own. Just remember when you decide to quit, you're admitting defeat to the devil. NEVER do that. Fight back. Lives are literally at stake when we don't. Think about that.

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Letter To My Younger, Easily Offended Self

Dear Younger Self,

You're beating yourself up again for blowing up in front of your family members. You just finished screaming at your brother for his insensitive remarks on how poorly you do things, even though you've sincerely put in effort to do better. But no matter how hard you tried, it wasn't good enough. You're frustrated and aggravated with your poor performance. I can see your tears of shame and embarrassment pouring down your face. It's not the first time you've felt this way. There have been many instances where you get offended so easily when people criticize you. You feel like a victim, always being looked down on and insulted for your limitations and failings. You're trapped in this secluded bubble of pestering thoughts lingering in your head. You speak hateful and harsh words to yourself, wondering why you're always so sensitive. Why your feathers get ruffled when someone points out your flaws. You wish you could be someone who just shrugs off offenses and moves on with her life, but you struggle to let go of your mistakes and people's callousness/misunderstanding towards you.

You perceive people's misintended (usually) words or actions as an insult and lose your stability(and sometimes your sanity). You're so tired of people telling you, "You're so sensitive!" "Grow up!" "What's wrong with you!?" Yet you don't deny the truth to these words. You feel like such an idiot when you make the pettiest offenses larger than they appear. You call yourself a failure and a weakling because you're not a rational stoic and curse your emotions for existing. You think you're better off without emotions. After all, nobody understands you and why you struggle with this.

I wish I could jump out from this letter and give you the biggest hug you could get and comfort you face to face. But sadly time is keeping me here, leaving me no choice but to send you this letter in a small time vault headed towards your time.

The beliefs you're carrying right now are meaningless lies. You are not weak for being sensitive and emotional. They're actually a GOOD THING because it lets you have empathy and compassion for others in their misfortune. What you're really struggling with is understanding the root cause behind your offenses. For many years, you've carried this hatred towards yourself because of how you were wired. There's so many things you can't do by yourself and you perceive that as a weakness, a curse you can't get rid of. You think you're worthless, incapable, pathetic, weak, and stupid. And so every time someone criticizes you, laughs at or brushes off your failed attempts, you take it very personal. Like they're seeing you the same way you see yourself, or worse.

Behind every emotional outburst is a girl pleading for worth and validation behind everything she puts effort into, whether it's the tiniest, pettiest thing or larger ones. Obsessed with perfection to such a fault that you don't realize, consuming you to where you're unstable and obsessive. And it reeks negativity and disgust in a lot of people, even some of your Christian friends. They just don't understand your behavior and judge by what they see on the surface. Instead of coming along side you to demonstrate Christ-like humility and compassion, and wanting to understand, they push you away and say something callous. You're going to be offended by their words and actions. People aren't perfect. But understand that screaming at them, playing guilt trips, and crying about it won't improve the situation.

The best advice I can give you is to find your worth in Jesus. Only He defines your worth and value. He went through so much to prove it for you. Trust me when I tell you that you are NOT defined by your limitations, failures, and shortcomings. You're God's daughter; therefore, you're capable, intelligent, strong, brave, insightful, and wise in Him even when you don't "feel" that way at all. I'd tell you more but I'm running out of time, the portal won't hold any longer. So I'll attach some more letters I've written you to this letter to help navigate the current seasons you're in. Each one will resonate with you since you're experiencing multiple layers of other inner turmoils peeling off the surface.

Just always try to remember that you're not alone. There are many people out there going through similar problems. Don't beat yourself up when you rely too easily on your feelings. Take them captive and make them obey Christ instead. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Shake off negative and demeaning insults like Taylor Swift sings it in one of her songs. It hasn't come out yet, but you'll know which one that is ;) Take it one day at a time. I have absolute confidence that you're going to do great things for the Lord and impact many peoples' lives, more than you'll ever know.


Your Future Self

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Reading The Bible When You Don't Feel Like It

I read a quote from a pastor that said, "If you want to grow your trust in God, you need to grow in your knowledge of God."

Many of us want to be diligent in our walk with the Lord, yet most of us don't put forth the effort to sit still and soak in God's Word, letting it bask in our minds and cleanse our hearts. Instead, we come up with all kinds of excuses not to read and study our Bibles. Here are the most common ones that I've heard:

1. "I don't know where to start." The Bible is a collection of many books into one, written by various authors in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Translated and distributed worldwide and categorized by genres of literature. Many scholars debate on where to start, but it's really up to you. Everyone has their own preference. Whether it's reading from cover to cover, chronologically, or the gospels, etc. it doesn't matter. The Holy Word is divinely inspired, so it won't return void(Isaiah 55:11). So don't waste time mulling over your options and just start!

2. "I don't have the time." But you have time to browse on Pinterest, update your Facebook or Twitter status, watch back to back episodes or reruns on Netflix, stalk someone's Instagram, gossip, the list could go on. I think a priority check needs to be in order. As well as time management. If you're going to say that you're unable to "make" time for God, stop right there. You may want to consider how you're phrasing that. Wouldn't saying that be an insult to the One who literally invented time? It really sounds like you're saying that your time is more important than His. 

3. "I don't have the money to spend on commentaries, Bible dictionaries, study guides, and concordances like my pastor has in his library." Whoever said you had to buy them? I mean, it's not like there's FREE resources available to choose from.

4. "I don't feel like it." Why? Is it because deep down, you know the Bible really isn't easy and fun to read, when it's full of truths that's not designed to make you feel comfortable and well-liked? Think some of the greatest disciples throughout history didn't have these dilemmas? THINK AGAIN. They faced all kinds of discomfort, rejection, and ridicule. I'm sure they had their moments where they didn't want to spend time with God AT ALL. But if they had chosen to rely on their feelings, they wouldn't have been a huge impact in people's lives. So why should we?

5. "I get distracted and bored easily." Distractions will occur and there will be times when reading the Bible feels like a chore. You may get a call about grandma being sick at a hospital or a neighbor might drop by unexpectedly, asking you to babysit their kids at the last minute. I'm not saying you should hang up the phone or turn down your neighbor's request. If such situations or similar do occur, consider bringing God's Word with you by hand or on your phone while you're in the waiting room, or when the kids are asleep or occupied. Make a note on your phone with an alarm or sticky notes to remind you to get in His Word. Don't say you "forgot" when you chose not to be proactive....

As for boredom, spending time with God should be a privilege, not an obligation. When you're busy getting to know Him more, loving Him, and serving Him genuinely and wholeheartedly, I guarantee the word "boredom" won't exist in your vocabulary. 

Now at the end of the day, these excuses may seem plausible at first glance, but in all honesty they're not. If you know you need to spend more time in God's Word, but you don't, no matter how often you say you want to, you really don't want to. All these excuses that you use to shield your laziness, apathy, and complacency stem from your lack of desire.

Wanting to spend time in the Word and actually spending time in the Word are totally different. You either want more of God or you don't. There is no middle ground. (Revelation 3:16) It all comes down to desire and how strong that desire is. And the proof lies within your daily obedience and fruit produced through your actions and words. Words must be consistent with action. Without action, it's meaningless. People do notice a difference in a person who maintains an active and vibrant walk with God. Do people see that in you?

My challenge for you and myself is to really examine our motives for not getting in God's Word. John 14:21 makes it clear that if we love God, we'll do what He says. It's not an option, it's a command. When we don't however, there's something wrong(1 John 2:4). I understand that as humans, we're imperfect and we will make mistakes. But are you going to use that as an excuse too? Or will you own responsibility?

"I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word."-Psalm 119:15-16

Friday, May 19, 2017

Having A Mary Heart

Just wanted to take time to focus on a particular woman of the Bible…Mary of Bethany!

Her story is absolutely one of the most beautiful ones in Scriptures. Parts of her story are featured in all four of the gospel accounts: Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:1-9, Luke 10:38-40 and John 11:1-12:3.

Mary was the sister of Martha and Lazarus(whom Jesus raised from the dead), and she and Martha welcomed Jesus and His disciples into their home. They were well known for their hospitality. While Martha was busy with getting everything ready for the guests, Mary sat down at the feet of Jesus, listening to what He had to say. It was very out of place for Mary to sit around and listen instead of getting the house in shape for the guests which was something women were accustomed to doing, and needless to say, Martha became very upset. She demanded that Jesus tell Mary to help her. But instead, Jesus gently rebuked Martha for being stressed out about everything while her sister Mary had chosen what was best; spending quality time with her Lord and soaking in everything He says.

How often do we find ourselves busy with everyday tasks? From school, work, preparing our meals, finding time to socialize with friends and spend time with our family. None of these things are bad. But when we allow them to take our focus away from our Heavenly Father, who wants us to seek Him first and in everything we do(Proverbs 3:6; Matthew 6:33), they become our “idols” or better yet “gods”.

What stood out to me from Mary is that she was a quiet, contemplative, and singled-minded woman. Mary understood the importance of finding rest in the Lord and meditating on what He said. She was very observant of the pain and anxiety of Jesus during the week leading to His crucifixion. As Jesus was dining at Simon’s home in Bethany, Mary came in with an expensive jar of perfume and anointed Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. Some of the apostles criticized her for breaking in while they were eating(which was considered very inappropriate for women to do) and wasting expensive perfume. But Jesus defended her again saying that she was anointing His body for burial. Mary did not care in the least that she wasn’t complying to the traditions of her custom, instead, her focus was wholeheartedly set on her Lord and Savior. Not once did she explain her actions when criticized. All that mattered to her was pleasing and obeying Him.

This following week, what are some habits you can develop to align your focus on Jesus?

• Turning off your phone, tablets, laptop and start soaking in God’s Word. Set a time(preferably morning) as that is when you have a fresh start of the day to study and ponder on His Word.
• Play worship music in the background and start thanking Him and praising Him for who He is
• Ask Him what He wants to reveal to your heart throughout the day
• Start a gratitude journal,(I wrote a post about that here)
• While cooking, cleaning, or walking outside or to class, listen to a sermon, podcast, or instrumental worship music
• Journal your prayers to the Lord, like writing a letter to Him. Writing helps to slow the brain down and focus better. (That’s my personal opinion)
• Paint or sketch for Him in a journaling art Bible.

What are some of your ideas?? I'd love to hear your thoughts? :)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Appreciating How God Made You

When I was little, my mom would make me sit at the table on evenings and solve math equations out of a workbook. Coming from an Asian background, academics was very important to my mom. She would often get frustrated and yell at me when I failed to do it correctly. I was always bawling my eyes out every time she got angry. The more I cried, the angrier she got. Growing up, I struggled a bit in school. I always needed help from teachers and other students because I couldn't do things right by myself.

Thinking logically and rationally doesn't come naturally for me. My brain has a difficult time slowing down and processing thoughts. People would constantly tell me, "Think, Jennifer, think!" "Use your brain!" "Why are you always making this so difficult!" It was really frustrating every time I struggled or people assumed I wasn't trying when I was.

Eventually I wore a mask called "apathy" and became very lazy. I felt so incapable, helpless, and weak. I convinced myself it was pointless to try. I cheated off of homework assignments from friends and let my teammates do most of the work during group projects and boss me around with doing easy tasks. In the meantime, people would compare me to my brother who was more natural at making good grades and didn't have to apply himself much. Some would say, "Seriously? You're his sister? You're supposed to be real brainy like him! What's wrong with you!" When someone would try to correct a fault I made, I'd get very angry or discouraged and walk away. Sometimes I'd lash out or throw an object at them or on the ground. I felt like I was constantly being attacked and looked down on.

I became a victim of my own pity parties that I threw myself all the time. I started questioning God, demanding why He made me the way I am. It didn't seem fair to me that I struggled with this while everyone around me was more self-reliant, capable, intelligent, and strong. The hatred I harbored towards myself kept rising and the more I hated myself, the more I hated God.

Just two weeks before my high school graduation, I tried to commit suicide. I didn't think I would be able to graduate from high school and head to college. I felt like the world was crumbling down on me. I wasn't sure how I was going to survive in the real world. It made more sense to take the "easier" way out. I feared being alone in my limitations and failures. I told God that it was pointless to keep me alive and He should replace me with someone more capable and strong to fulfill His grand purpose. However, my plan failed and I ended up staying in a mental health facility for a little while.

If you're wondering why God made you the way you are, it's because He has a special, unique role for you! I don't know how it will unfold for you, but we all have the same purpose: To love God and share His love with others.

"But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?"-(Romans 9:20). In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul illustrates the importance of everyone belonging to the body of Christ and how each part has a function. Verses 22-23 says, "On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we consider less honorable, we treat with greater honor." I'm certainly not the strongest, smartest, wisest, most talented, and skilled person. I'm terribly weak, but because I'm so weak, I have to depend on God so that He could use my weaknesses to showcase His awesome strength. That's the only way I can positively impact people's lives through words of encouragement, insight, wisdom, and bridging the gap to resources and other people to help their spiritual growth. It's only THROUGH GOD I am capable of what I do. Instead of viewing my single-mindedness and utter dependence as a curse, I now consider them a blessing. Thus, like Paul, I will boast evermore in my weaknesses(2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

That being said, whatever "flaw", "imperfection", "failing", or "weakness" you consider yourself having, I want you to embrace them as gifts to impact your calling in this life you were given. I heard a story about Amy Carmichael(1867-1951), who wished her eyes were blue instead of brown when she was younger. She hoped and prayed that God would change her eye color, but became disappointed when He didn't. Little did she know that many years later, God would use her to save countless lives of children and women from sex trafficking and rituals performed in Hindu temples in India. Her brown eyes allowed her to blend in as she disguised herself with mud to look like the Indians and help them escape. Many came to know Christ through her as a result.

I want you to know and accept that who you are and how you were made is no accident. God didn't make garbage(Genesis 1:31). Just because you don't "feel" that way doesn't mean that it's not true. You are beautiful, adored, cherished, and dearly loved by God. And you each have something valuable to share with others. So celebrate that instead of feeling sorry for yourself. Feeling sorry for yourself only stifles your gifts. Don't let anyone (especially the devil) say otherwise. Everything will work out the way it's supposed to as long as You continue to trust Him and center your identity in Him.

Romans 8:28, "And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose."

Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Psalm 139:14, "I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well."

Psalm 139:15-16, "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. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

I've compiled two separate lists at the bottom to help you embrace how God made you and walk out your identity in Him. You can print them out, journal, or copy and paste them into Word, Evernote, OneNote, etc. Look at them and rehearse them out loud to yourself daily. Or just keep them somewhere where you can pull them up when you need them. There's no right or wrong way to do this. Just as long as they help you to see yourself in God's eyes. Because honestly, it's His opinion that truly matters.

True Identity In Christ Scriptures

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Count Your Blessings

I recently started a gratitude journal after being inspired by 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

About a week ago, I was in a rut of whining and complaining to God about how things weren’t going in the direction I thought they would until He directed my eyes to that verse. As I stopped and pondered for a minute, I realized that God has blessed me with so much that I wasn’t seeing because I was taking them all for granted. It’s one thing to be grateful whenever things go our way. But to be thankful in all things, regardless of how they appear is entirely different. God wants us to be grateful no matter what our circumstances are like, not just when things are going well. Circumstances are temporary, they don’t bring us true contentment. True contentment is found in the LORD. The only way to be truly grateful is to keep our eyes on Him. The joy of the LORD is eternal and fulfilling. It helps us from slipping into a state of bitterness, depression, negativity, and self-pity caused by an ungrateful heart. The Bible has tons of verses filled with people praising and thanking God during difficult times. The Psalms is a great place to start.

There are so many things we can thank God for if we just stop and slow down to look around and see the many blessings He’s given us. I think keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to do that. It enables us to reflect on God’s faithfulness and love towards us whenever disappointments and frustrations starts to sink in. I recommend looking through it during your personal worship/quiet time with the Lord. Spend time thanking Him for all you received in your journal. So far, I’ve listed out 182 things to be thankful for in my journal. And I intend to keep filling it up. The goal is to acknowledge our Heavenly Father for who He is and how He’s provided for us during the good and bad. God is so worthy of our praise and thanksgiving!!

Here are some examples you can use if you're not sure where to begin:

1. God's salvation
2. Kindness from a stranger
3. Flowers blooming in the backyard
4. The roof over my head
5. Feeding homeless people at the park
6. Visiting my grandparents

And so forth. There is nothing too small or big to praise Him with. I pray that this has triggered an inspiration to do the same. The more you get into the habit of thanking God, the better you see His goodness in your life.

“Every good and perfect gift comes from God.” -James 1:17

“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”-Hebrews 13:15

“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; 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.”- Psalm 100:1-5

Saturday, March 18, 2017

You Don't Need Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which a person feels incapable, unworthy, incompetent, and unlovable. Many people suffer from this debilitating condition, hence why depression, suicide rates, and self-harm are rampant. While depression has been proven by studies to be a medical condition in some cases, low self-esteem hasn't. Why do you think society has so many problems in this area? Maybe because there's a lot of pressure to attain "perfection" in all aspects of our lives in our society and if we fail, we become a laughing stock. We become nothing.

Let's see...there's got to be something in the Bible somewhere telling us to feel good and amazing about ourselves. That'll surely solve our self-esteem issues for every single day of the year.


The Bible doesn't state anywhere that we should feel good about ourselves. Although David acknowledged and proclaimed that he was fearfully and wonderfully made in Psalm 139:14, he wasn't saying that to flatter his ego or feel prideful about his appearance, instead he was offering a praise to God. David was esteeming God, not himself.

The word "esteem" means to respect and admire. I can't find a single verse in the Bible that tells us to esteem ourselves or raise our self-confidence. Yet there's plenty of self-help books and web articles telling us that to overcome our self-esteem problems, we need to build more confidence in ourselves and feel good about who we are. 

Quite frankly, telling me to feel good about myself or have more confidence in myself severely clashes with sorrow over my sinful nature. I can't have any confidence in my flesh whatsoever. There is nothing good in me or any Christian except Christ Himself (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 7:18). Sin is a constant reminder of why I need daily dependence on Christ every hour. Without Him, I can do nothing(John 15:4-5). Self-confidence is just a concept of turning "self" into an idol. It's a trap luring us into elevating ourselves to the same level as God. Hmmm...where does that sound familiar?

I think the real problem is that we're misinterpreting how we feel on the inside and what society is telling us. Self-esteem stems from an issue inside of us, not around us. It's a reflection of how we respond the mirror of God's Word.

Christ didn't suffer and die for us just so we could gain an identity for ourselves to wear proudly as a name badge and spend the rest of our lives catering to our vanity and ego. But we do a spectacular job distorting, twisting, and taking Scripture out of context to fit our silly ideals and live how we want. I mean, what human alive doesn't want all the focus and attention on himself/herself? It's ingrained in our sinful nature.

God isn't the least bit interested in making us better, prettier, skinnier, and more confident versions of ourselves. His main concern is conforming us to the image of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29, Philippians 3:21). To shape us to be the ambassadors and warriors He's called us to be so we can take the gospel to the lost, sick, and hurting people out there.

All self-esteem really does is bring our attention to things that don't matter. What really matters is whether or not we are loving God, loving people, witnessing, and making disciples.

Too often, we let ourselves get caught up in how society perceives us and defines us, distracting us from turning our attention to the needs of others. Our focus is blurred because we care more about fulfilling expectations of the cultural norm society has at every corner. Honestly, it's exhausting striving to prove our worth to people. Thankfully, we don't have to prove our worth to God! God chose us long before we existed into being. (Ephesians 1:11) We don't need to work harder or try harder. God's done all the work for us! Our worth is dependent in Christ alone. Our identities are received, not achieved. We can simply rest knowing God's love isn't based on our merits, status, and abilities. His love is unconditional.

In order to resemble a life governed by love, humility, and truth, we must understand whose we are. Knowing and embracing our identity in Him wholeheartedly enables us to truly love, accept, and effectively serve others.

Even when friends betray us or people reject us, our identity won't waver when it's firmly staked in Christ.

Here are some wonderful and encouraging truths about our Christ-given identities. 

Who I Am In Christ
I'm forgiven(Ephesians 1:7)
I'm redeemed(Colossians 1:13; Colossians 2:11)
I'm chosen(Ephesians 1:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 2:9)
I'm a child of God(Ephesians 1:5-6)
I'm renewed(Colossians 3:9,10; 1 Peter 1:23)
I'm holy, set apart, and blameless(Ephesians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Peter 1:15-16)
I'm beloved(Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4)
I'm right with God(Ephesians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
I'm sealed by the Holy Spirit(Ephesians 1:13)
I'm God's masterpiece(Ephesians 2:10)
I'm raised up to sit at the right hand of God with Christ(Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:10)
I inherit every spiritual blessing(Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 4:19)
I'm a new person(2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20)
I'm free from sin and condemnation(Romans 8:1-2)
I have unlimited access to God's throne(Ephesians 2:18)
I can come boldly and confidently into God's presence(Ephesians 3:12)
I'm a member of Christ's body(Romans 12:4-5)
I have the mind of Christ(1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5)
I'm connected to God and bear fruit(John 15:5; Galatians 5:22-23)
I'm a bondservant of God(Ephesians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 7:22; 2 Timothy 2:24)
I'm an ambassador for God(2 Corinthians 5:20)
I'm a warrior for God(Ephesians 6:10-18)
I have a new body(1 Corinthians 15:40-44)

If you're struggling with overcoming self-loathing or self-esteem, beg Jesus to turn your focus away from yourself and onto Him. Because the world desperately needs to see the overflowing and undying love of Christ channeling through us.

"He must become greater, I must become less."-John 3:30


I am defined by God. My worth and value comes from what He did on the cross. My esteem belongs solely to the Creator, not myself. Esteeming myself feeds pride and self-centeredness, downplaying and ridiculing the perfect image of His Son who lives in me. My sin nailed Him to the tree, He died to set me free. My heart and soul will magnify the Lord. He alone deserves praise and glory.

Let this truth be a daily reminder for you as well.