Who am I?

Between the media, our culture and peer groups, and even family members, we are land blasted on every side by who and what we should be. There’s the crowd that’s constantly telling you to look better, dress nicer, lose more weight. Then you have the people who never think that your best is good enough, and those that find something you do that they don’t like and decide to attack you on it.

And that’s not even counting our own internal struggle on self-worth, insecurity, and if what we’ve done is good enough!

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Whew!

With all that craziness, how in the world are we supposed to decipher what is true and build up a foundation of worth that stands against the fire of culture and condemnation?

How can we learn to drown out the voices of thousands and listen to the only one that truly matters – Jesus’?

The answer, as many things are is simple, but the application can be a lot harder! I know sometimes I can berate myself over something I did wrong, or as my perfectionism likes to remind me, “not good enough or perfectly.”

We need to build our spiritual muscle memory up, so when the voice of condemnation and you-aren’t-good-enough comes, we can rely on that to refute it with a solid, “NOT TRUE” and God’s Word!

So let’s dive right in, what does the Bible say about us?

“So God created mankind in His own image,” ~ Genesis 1:27

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well,” ~ Psalm 149:14

“You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God,” ~ Isaiah 62:3

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory,” ~ Romans 8:17

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,” ~ 1 Peter 2:9

This is what He calls us….

  • created in His image
  • fearfully and wonderfully made
  • crown of splendor, royal diadem
  • heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ
  • chosen race
  • royal priesthood
  • holy nation

And that’s not even counting treasured possession (Exodus 19:5), bride of Christ (John 3:29), child of God (1 John 3:1) and countless others!

We are not some run-of-the-mill, made-in-a-factory soul. We aren’t glanced over, pushed to the side, or forgotten in the corner of some dingy pub. God has created us for a specific person, in His image, and there is not another human being alive in the past, present, or future that is exactly like you or I. He has placed aspects of Himself in us – maybe you are creative, God is incredibly creative – look at everything He has made! Are you loyal, have a great sense of humor (talking donkey anyone? check out Numbers 22:20), or love to encourage others? Those are all qualities that God has!

Not only are we a reflection of Him (granted, an imperfect one!), but He refers to those of us who are saved as a crown of splendor…a royal diadem. How amazing is that? The God of the entire universe views His children, even with our mistakes, as someone who He is proud of (side note: this does not mean that He advocates for our sins, but I think that He sees where we are trying and is delighted by our efforts).

Now that we’ve defined who God says we are, what does our relationship look like with God? Is he condemning? Harsh? Let’s see…

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness,” ~ Jeremiah 31:3

“He will take great delight in you,” and “will rejoice over you with singing,” ~ Zephaniah 3:17

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins,” ~ 1 John 4:10

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” ~ Psalm 34:18

“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great,” ~ Psalm 18:35

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go,” ~ Joshua 1:9

Wow. Every time I read these verses, especially together, it always amazes me the extent of the Lord’s love and compassion.

As a perfect being, He could easily reject our efforts and remind us of our failings. God is so far above us, and the fact that Jesus still chose to come down to the dust, dirt, pain, and suffering – away from the perfect glory and comfort, is amazing.

FaithInstead of condemnation, He delights and rejoices in us. That blows my mind! I especially love Psalm 18:35, on how God’s gentleness made him [David] great. I don’t know about y’all, but gentleness is not something I normally associate with Jesus.

In “The Complete Word Study Dictionary” by Warren Baker and Dr. Eugene Carpenter, they explain what the word gentleness means in Hebrew – patience and tenderness. What a beautiful picture that is of our Lord!

He treats us with patience, tenderness, love, and compassion. And as Psalm 103:14 states, He remembers that we are dust, that we are human. He knows our shortcomings and weaknesses and still offers to any who accept, a relationship with Him.

I want to end this with a beautiful quote by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke in their book “Spoken For.” And as we go about our days, let us remind ourselves that to those who accept His salvation, we are children of God and nothing in this world can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38).

“This is an epic love story that you are part of. You are wanted. Draw in that eternal truth: You. Wanted. Forever.

~ Southern Dreamer

 

 

Undercover Boss

The lights flash overhead – flash flash flash.

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The crimson curtains fall in perfect line across the stage – swish swish swish.

Center Stage Design Challenge

In the crowd, dozens upon dozens of angels stand transfixed – gaze adoringly focused on their Lord. No sound is made, and yet there is an uncanny sense of destiny and heroism about to be embarked upon. The foreboding aura of – wait. A breeze shifts through the auditorium, whispering to the congregation.

Watch. Listen. Believe. 

Another murmur.

See my Son, unblemished and without fault. He now goes to the world below. Our creation, that became riddled with sin and darkness. So lost and desperate for anything real, blinded by their own brokenness. He will become in likeness with them, transforming to be both God and man, trading the riches of His throne, for the dust of the Earth. 

Eyes were wide in the crowd, silence filling the room.

Through Him, the canyon of sin – the gap that separates our creation from us, will finally be bridged. By His sacrifice, they will have a way to come home. Now, let it begin.

Lightening scintillated in shards of electric light, and the clock of eternity ticked on.

Tick. Tick. Tick. 

~~~

The stage is set; the prologue has been written. What will happen?

In nervous anticipation, the heavenly audience watches from above. There is the birth – raw and painful, yet filled with so much beauty and relief. He’s here! God, in the flesh! The trembling hand of a father, strokes the babe’s cheek – held in his mother’s arm. How is this real?

Oh, but it is real. Very real.

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The child, Jesus, grows up. People do not know who he is, not really. They say that he is such a wise young boy, always obeying his parents. The years fast-forward and adulthood has come.

Miracles are performed and lives are saved.

The instrumental music’s tempo dramatically increases. Oh! Oh! Now-now there is pain and betrayal – blood seeps His skin, inch deep wounds scar His body, and agony covers the atmosphere in a dark display of thunder and rain.

The audience holds their breath, watching anxiously to see what will happen next.

There is a stone, a grave. Three days. Seventy-two hours. And, then!

Life.

He lives.

~~~

Jesus was the ultimate “Undercover Boss.” If you have never watched the show, the premise of Undercover Boss is the CEO of a business disguises themselves and works several different jobs that are part of their company. They meet different people, those who are struggling and need help. These individuals show them how to work their specific skill, and so the show goes on.

No one knows that this person is the boss. Not, that is, until the very end. During the last portion of the hour, the CEO – now looking like themselves, meets with each of his or her employees that they worked with.

The employees are naturally shocked, surprised! They had no idea!

But the best part is yet to come. Finally, the boss leans forward – grinning, he references their struggles in life, and what they had gone through. “I want to do something,” he says, “I’m giving you a check for $20,000 dollars.”

Instantly, the recipient is in tears – wondering if this is real. Could all of their anxieties really be over? Did someone actually notice them? All they can do is thank the CEO over and over again.

This is what the Holy Spirit revealed to me.

I was sitting in the bed one night, condemning myself for not reading my Bible enough or feeling like just worshipping God was “enough.” Dratted perfectionism y’all!

Anyway, Undercover Boss was on the TV and the Holy Spirit suddenly told me that’s me. I came to Earth and I am your undercover boss. This person offered financial help to these people, they did not expect it and yet, they accept it. Why then, do you continue to try to prove yourself to me, when I have canceled all of your debt. You are debt free. 

WHAT.

Basically my brain xD

So yeah, the CEO gave them thousands of dollars, sent them on vacations, helped them out of whatever problems life had thrown their way. And Jesus? Oh boy, here comes the surprise! Can you feel the tension? The big reveal is here!

~~~

A hush feels the room. Then…

I am offering you a clean slate. Freedom through me. You will have no more sin debt, I have already paid the price for it. I want you to become my heir – royalty. Everything I have is yours: my righteousness for your robe, my divinity for your soul, my love for your spirit. All I ask is that you trust me with your heart, and all this shall be gifted to you. 

There has to be something more, right? It-it can’t be that easy! That simple? Crazy! No one just offers everything to a stranger. No one could possibly want to give someone like me this!

Your flaws and failures do not frighten me away. I see your greatest potential, the best version of yourself. The natural state of your humanity is nothing compared to the magnitude of my love, with which even the darkest of souls can be saved if they only believe. 

But, me?

I have chosen you. You are my chosen one, my treasure.

The question is…

Will you trust me?

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~ Southern Dreamer

*Scripture references: 1 Peter 2:9, Romans 8:17, 2 Peter 1:4, John 15:16, 1 Corinthians 2:16, Isaiah 61:10, 1 John 4:19, Exodus 19:5

Victory in Jesus

Yesterday, as I was sitting in the car, my mind began to wonder. Sometimes when that happens it’s a good thing, a creative idea will come to me or I’ll remember something I had forgotten. Other times, when my thoughts drift off, they’ll jump onboard the “Fear/Anxiety Train.” Unfortunately, I was on my way to the plush cushioned seats of Worry.

So that’s where I was mentally.

As my eyes glanced at the radio, I noticed what song had started to play…”No Longer Slaves” by Bethel. Just to give you a quick preview, the chorus of this song says:

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

Yeah, pretty awesome. I started to sing the words and the Spirit reminded me of something really awesome. Are y’all ready?

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us! Like, WHAT. I think many times we gloss over this, or don’t understand the actual meaning. But y’all, the power that raised our Savior from the grave? That brought him back to life? LIVES IN US.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you,” ~ Romans 8:11

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” ~ Acts 1:8

It made me feel so empowered! And I could feel my fear being washed away as I meditated on this thought. Life can be really hard, and once in a while it’s wise to remind ourselves of whose we are. Children of the Most High. Princes and princesses of the King of kings. Creations of the Bright and Morning Star. Co-heirs with Christ (aka God of the universe). Friend of God.

And because of that, we have the privilege of being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God’s Spirit, to those who believe, resides in us. We can live in the victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection! We are truly free! In the life of Jesus, we have complete confidence of triumph. When we go through trials, struggles, pain, and suffering, let us remember that at the end of the day, in God, we are victorious! As Paul said, “perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Perhaps you fight battles that no one knows, save for yourself and our Lord. Maybe you’re struggling with something that you think no one can possibly understand. Or it could be that right now your life is going perfectly. Everything is coming together exactly as you thought it would, and you couldn’t be more excited! Whether or not you find yourself in a season of waiting or one of great joy, let us never forget that in our Savior, we are VICTORS. CONQUERS. OVERCOMERS. WARRIORS.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57

As we celebrate this fourth of July, remember where the true freedom lies. Between biting into a juicy hamburger and dipping your glistening silver spoon into a bowl of cold, soft ice cream, do not forget the high price that Jesus paid. When you watch the fireworks explode in beautiful displays of red, blue, and white, thank God for saving us from a lifetime of misery and sin. He set us free, and His freedom is the most valuable kind. Because even if the world goes to hell, the government crumbles, and everyone is in a panic, as Christians, we can still stand tall and say with confidence that we are free.

We know the truth and we have been delivered. Let us never forget the priceless gift of being a Child of God. We are free.

~ Southern Dreamer