Archives For identity

Bean Dip

November 19, 2012 — Leave a comment


Bean Dip. Frito brand, with jalapeno peppers. Best snack ever.

I’ve been eating bean dip and taco flavor Doritos since I was a wee lad. It’s the first thing I remember actually eating. I used to cry for it if we didn’t have any. I remember when I was about 5, my Grandmother going out to 7-11 late at night to get me some bean dip and taco chips so I could watch Twilight Zone before going to bed.

Yeah, I was a weird kid.

I never had a stomach ache from it, never got tired of it, never got enough of it. In fact, I just ate some about five minutes ago. And when I say “some” I mean about a whole can.

What is it about these things that we call “favorites?” Whether it’s a favorite meal (tacos), favorite drink (coke), favorite snack (duh), or favorite person (Cheryl!), I guess it’s that they just click with our personality and become a part of who we are.

Have you ever had a favorite, then change your mind?

When I was about 13 years old, I stayed the summer with my Grandmother in Anaheim, CA. She worked somewhere I can’t remember, but it was next to a movie theater, and some days when I went to work with her, she’d give me $20 and I’d spend the day at the movies. It’s amazing how many movies you can see for $20 if you’re sneaky.

Also, I loved Rolos back then. One day I got my ticket and spent the rest of my money on Rolos. I had about 7 packs of them. Also, I was watching Rocky 2.

About half way through the movie I had eaten about 70 Rolos, and was starting to feel a little queasy. Toward the end of the movie, when the severe beatings were taking place, I lost it all on the floor of that movie theater. That was 33 years ago and I have not just not eaten Rolos again – I have never eaten anything with a combination of chocolate and caramel since then. Funny thing is, I haven’t thrown up, not once, since then either. This is good info to remember.

Rolo is my kryptonite, my Achilles heal. The further they are from me, the better.

Some people, though, don’t know any better. They just keep right on doing what is bad for them, what is making them sick. The “snack” has turned into a habit that has turned into a life.

I think about my mother, who ruined her life with drugs. It started off pretty innocent – she was just a kid in the 60′s smoking a little weed, and one choice to say yes ended in her death 45 years later.

The bible puts it in a horrible, disgusting way. “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” (Proverbs 26:11)

I could really elaborate on that, but I hope you got a mental picture when you read those words so I won’t have to.

It should make you queasy, it should make you shake your head to try to clear that image. Maybe you’ll start humming the words to your favorite song so you don’t have to think about it anymore. Either way, that entire chapter of Proverbs is about foolishness.

If you’re like me (normal?) you’ve done some foolish things in your time, and have grown and become wiser and learned from your mistakes and have vowed to never repeat them. I could tell you some stories, believe me! But for others, this is hitting you right where you live.

Listen, I’m not trying to make you feel bad or guilty or anything. I’m trying to tell you that you can be free! Yes, the fool will waste his life chasing after drugs or alcohol or money or things, and never really discover what life is really all about – and it’s a tragedy every single time. But it doesn’t have to be that way, for any of us!

Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This verse, for me, is my favorite in the book of Galatians. Everything Paul wrote before this is building up to this verse.

Paul talks about how we were slaves, how sin had condemned us, how we were prisoners to the Law, how we were separated from God by our transgressions, and in one statement, he reminded his readers of everything that Christ did on the cross for us – We are free!

But look at what his next words were – “stand firm.” This is classic Paul – he tells us what God did, then tells us what we must do in order to have it.

Yes, Christ died for you, yes the price was paid, yes, we have been handed freedom, but what are we supposed to do with it? We are supposed to stand firm – stand firm so that we can continue to walk in freedom.

What I love even more about it is, we can’t even do that without His help. There is nothing we can do that is right on our own! We can’t save ourselves, we can’t redeem ourselves, we can’t be good enough or smart enough or strong enough. The fool will try.

Our victory comes in standing firm, and we can only do that by giving everything up – our thoughts, our actions, our lives must not be our own, or we will find ourselves enslaved to the things Christ freed us from.

Remember the Rich Young Ruler? He came to Jesus so excited – he had done everything that was required of him under the Law, and it was not enough. He was holding back. Jesus told him to sell all of his stuff and give the money away, then he could follow Him. And if you will remember, he walked away with everything he had before, plus one more thing - he still had his wealth, his station in life, his religion, but he also walked away sad.

Do not walk away sad! What is God saying to you right now? What are you holding on to? What in your life are you using as a poor substitute for Christ? What do you keep returning to, over and over and over, knowing full well it is foolish to do so, and will keep you from every good thing, keep you from the freedom that Christ died to bring the world?

Don’t walk away sad - lay it down, and be done with it for good! Don’t be enslaved to your vision of what your life is supposed to be – become who God dreams you could be, and walk away a brand new person, with a brand new life! You can have that right now! What is your choice today?



Set Apart

November 10, 2012 — Leave a comment


I’ve been struggling for a while about something major – what sets me apart? What makes me unique? What is there that’s special about me?

My wife is a musician. She sings, writes songs, plays several instruments. With just a little nudge, she could be a pro. She could be famous.

My daughter Trinity can draw. Not just draw. She sees unique and original pictures in her head and can transfer them onto paper or canvas and they are beautiful creations. She’s only 11, but she has some serious talent.

I could go on – and I guess I will. There are people who are extremely gifted in this world – whose abilities outclass the mere mortals around them, and wherever they go, whatever they do, people take notice. They change things, they challenge themselves and those around them. They are, more often than not, heros.

Well, what about the rest of us? What about me? I’m not being down on myself. I’m very smart, and I’m really good at a lot of things. A LOT of things. In fact, almost everything I’ve ever done, I’ve been really good at. But not great.

What am I great at? What will define me and my life? What will I contribute? What will I do that’s important?

Everyone will agree that I’m unique, and I have a certain way of seeing things that’s different. At work I approach things differently than most people, and its been that way regardless of what job I have had. But at the end of the day, unique is just a way of saying different but mostly the same. I’m just me, and I’m really not that much different than any other person.

I really only have one thing that makes me special. And I’m not all that good at it. I’m God’s kid. He’s my father, and I’m his son. Maybe if I can be a better child, I will find what I’m really supposed to do or be.

Thing is I can’t make myself better. I have to rely on the father for that. I have to follow his lead, and live the life that his Son lived. That’s something I’m still learning. I’m more of a prodigal who has been off squandering and is just now waking up in the pig pen wondering what brilliant idea I can hatch to get me out of this mess.

The problem is the same one that everyone faces. Not what am I going to do with my life, what am I going to be, but who am I? It’s all about identity.

We all struggle through life trying to find our place, carve out an existence, muddle our way through. I used to think (and still stuggle with thinking) that there were some really lucky people who knew someone or had the right daddy who actually got to be someone in life, and the rest of us just got regular jobs and lived and died and were forgotten.

I really don’t want that to be my life, but I don’t know anyone, and I’m not too terribly lucky. But I do have the right daddy.

In spite of all of my wrong thinking, which I am obviously still working through, I’m still set apart. Those are not my words and I stuggle to believe it. I know it in some part of me, but I don’t act like it sometimes and have trouble believing it in my head. It’s funny how different parts of your body can be in a war against each other sometimes.

My spirit tells me I’m living in the Kingdom, I’m God’s child, he has a dream for me. My soul tells me I’m pretty much average and pretty much out of luck. My heart yearns for freedom and to know what God’s plan is for me so I can just do it already.

Basically I’m out of whack.

So I have to keep on going. I’m at least pointed in the right direction right now. Three years ago there was no hope at all. No. Hope. I have to keep giving more of myself to God, I have to keep keeping less for myself. Because one thing I do know – it’s not about me. All those things I’m good at…what are they but gifts from God, that I used for my own glory for so many years.

We are set apart – unique, different. The bible says we are aliens – not of this world. Or maybe that’s an old Petra song. Either way – what we need when we are stuggling with these things is to remember that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. That’s Romans 12 right there by the way.

The battle for my spirit is complete. My body will keep getting older, then fail at some point. No way around that unless Jesus comes again while I’m alive. What stands in the middle is my mind, and it’s still crammed full of the world. This is why I stuggle – because my mind needs to be transformed. As Bob Hamp puts it – I don’t need to think different, I need to think differently.

The problem is I’m in bondage to being me. Jesus came to set me free from that. I need to repent from that – I need to think differently. Right now I’m trying to think different – I’m trying to control my thoughts by plugging other things in – good things! Classes at church, Christian music, listening to great sermons. It’s all good! The content of my thoughts is not so much the issue, though, as is the actual way in which I think.

I can’t exchange bad thinking for good thinking and hope to do any better. This is my effort – and it’s in vain. It’s fruitless.

To repent means to think differently – not new content, but a whole new way of thinking and seeing things. The renewing of my mind. And as I’m discovering, like everything else, it’s a process – one that I’m in the big middle of.

So I will keep on going. But sometimes I may still wonder from time to time – who am I, why am I even here? I think that is thinking the old way and only glorifies me. I don’t want to do that anymore. Maybe it’s a baby step, but that’s where I am.

Where are you?

It Ain’t Me

October 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

That song really speaks to me sometimes. CCR has always been a favorite band. Love their sound, and their lyrics still hit home all these years later. Seems like we’re still fighting some of the same battles we have always fought. They just seem different because there’s different people involved, but really if you think about it, it may be a different generation, but the song is still the same.

I’m thinking about my own life while listening to this song, and some of the battles I’ve fought. Some I’ve won, some I’ve lost, and some I didn’t even need to fight.

Because of some of the things I’ve been through in life, I’ve always had some identity problems. I don’t know if all adopted children go through that, but I did, and do to this day. Who am I? Whose am I? Did I do something wrong all those years ago? Did I do something to make my birth parents do what they did?

I know the answer in my heart – NO! They were already adults, and they were who they were, and I didn’t do anything wrong. In my head, when it comes up, I still struggle with it. Most days I win, too. I know WHOSE I am! And on the days that my thinking gets the best of me, I resolve to give it to God and do better next time, through him.

Like I said, I don’t know if most/all adopted kids go through this, but I do know a lot of people in general deal with it. I talk to people at work almost every day who feel trapped, who think that life is passing them by, who don’t know who they are or what they were made for – what their purpose is. Most of them say the same thing that I feel and that is in this song – “It ain’t me!”

Thinking back to the cross…Jesus knew exactly who he was, and what he was here to do, and when the time came he did not hesitate to fulfill his mission. And because he did all those things – living, dying, living again, and all that that entails – because of that, we all have identity through him!

Romans 8:17 says that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Think about how huge this is! I think of the prodigal son, whose brother did not accept his return very gladly. The son had already taken his inheritance and squandered it, then came home with his proverbial prodigal tail between his legs. And the father accepted him gladly, running to him, throwing a huge party in his honor. The other son grumbled and complained and said, “you never let me have a party and I was here the whole time!”

That is not Christ’s attitude at all! He has everything, he is at the right hand of the Father, and he wants to share it all with us!  He wants to give it to all of us who have gone astray! Who are we? We are sons and daughters of the King, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, and we have the Holy Spirit as the down payment of everything that is to come. We will inherit, and in fact have already inherited the Kingdom!

Crazy, right?

Who am I? I spend a lot of time saying, screaming, whimpering, whispering, thinking “It ain’t me.” God who am I? What do you want from me? What do I do with this life you have given me?

His reply is a still small voice – “Be my child. Just be. And as my Son said what he heard me saying, and did what he saw me doing, so you should say and do as well.”

I am a son, I am a prince, I am a saint, and I am a priest! As my savior was before me, so I now am. My life is a message – everything about me is a song to the King. He loves me, he accepts me, he approves of me and he even likes me! I do not disappoint my Father, and nothing I do or say or think could ever change his love for me! Why? Because when he looks at me he sees Jesus!

And still in this life I will struggle. My spirit is connected to God. My physical body will die. My soul – my mind, will and emotions – I will need to submit to him every minute, every second of every day. When I do he renews my strength. When I don’t I worry, I wonder, I wither.

What do I do with this life he has given me? What do I do when I’m at work thinking, “This ain’t me. I was made for more than this. What about these dreams I have? What about these gifts you have given me? I feel like it’s all been wasted!” I give it to him, and I be his son, and I serve those around me. And I forget what I was whining about to begin with.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you right now? About who you are? About why you are alive? I bet he’s telling you the same things he just told me. You’re special! You’re loved! And God has a plan for you – to just be his!