Who Is In Your Mirror?

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What determines a person’s unique identity? What is constant about him? What changes about him? Is he morphing under the climate, attitudes, perceptions and expectations of certain groups of people?

Most of us have experienced this morphing sometime in our life. We kick ourselves after taking on the group attitude when a discussion erupted. We voice or nod agreement, when it’s not what we agree with at all. We vow to not let ourselves become what others have pegged us, then go to a gathering and act exactly as they expected. It’s a strange power.

Is it possible to be consistent in our identity? Is that what integrity is? Who can hold their own amid the pressures of society, influential people, loved ones, the blitz of heated opinions in an election year, or in some cases the conflicted theology of a church, and not flex so much that we sell our souls?

When we compromise our integrity, is it worth it? Who gains from our loss? Often we morph to be agreeable, and the person or group demanding it takes. And takes. And takes. And takes some more. They aren’t appreciative or respectful of our sacrifice, only glad to have it go their way.

How far have we sold out our identities? Do we know anymore who we are, or who we would have been had we not morphed for others?

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God offers to help us regain our intended identities. He will quarantine us (metaphorically or literally) to keep pressures to conform at bay, then educate how the outside influences wrongfully shaped us. He will restore the identities we lost. But we must recognize our opportunity for restoration — it’s common for people to reject his intervention. We can be so indoctrinated that we remain bound to imaginary chains, needlessly restricted. We too often continue our old thinking. We go through the motions, unmindful. We fail to pause, question, contemplate, debate, and resist our status quo.

If we never ponder what others ponder, does that capture our attention? Are we often robotic, hollow, or “Stepford wife-ish” to others? Do we consider ourselves the ones to change, or do we stand firm as being “right”, and dismiss thinkers as “too analytical, too deep, too philosophical”? Sure, it saves time and energy to continue as is, but only for the short term — in the long run, our failure to alter our thinking wastes immeasurable time.

Consider this: Are there people in your life denying your right to pause, think, resist, ponder, question, and struggle with concepts? Who has a right to do that? Should any individual or group claim sovereignty over your mind?

Our counselor doesn’t operate that way. He grants us full freedom of will. He is an educator, not a manipulator. He engages in healthy relationships, offering ideas, not imposing them. He encourages dialogue and honest expression of self. He knows our thoughts anyway, it’s illogical to believe he would forbid or reprimand us for being honest with him.

So let me ask:

DSCN0477Who are you? What do you think? What is your innate personality? Are you afraid to express your honest thoughts or true personality, convinced they are unacceptable in your sphere of society?

Do you ever wonder why some people get away with authentic self-expression and have no repercussions for it? Have you noticed people like that get their freedom and groups tend to step back with respect to that person? Yet, the more compliant and agreeable you are, the more the group moves in closer and further restricts your rights and individuality. Give them an inch, and they take a mile.

When did it happen, this slow, subtle, giving way to group think? How can you get it back? Can you get yourself back?

DSCN0529You can. If you’ve lost your identity, may you be filled with wisdom and courage for the cause of retrieving it. You must be wise if you’re in unsafe surroundings; even then, your thoughts are yours and yours alone.

Matthew 7:6 – “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Do what you must, but don’t let your soul and spirit be trampled — be discriminant of who you throw the pearl of you to. May you have clarity, wisdom, and courage to reach safety. May you find a haven where people are like God, where there is no rejection, where you are respected and free to express yourself honestly.

When you do, be prepared to be well-received. The world is thirsty for trustworthy, grounded, independent thinking. Those who suffer under stifling demands to conform to their unrighteous environments are losing hope — they need to see confident, caring people living freely and without limits. Trust that when you become able to express yourself consistent with your God-given, God-approved, true identity, you will certainly not turn others off, but will instead draw others to you.

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Sing for joy, you heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.Isaiah 44:23

Dovetailing

Cindi Gale

Humans are a needy lot. Beyond imperatives like food, shelter, and sleep, we need affirmation, hope, motivation, truth, non-fragmented thoughts, noble attitudes, competence, friendships, acceptance, wisdom, and on and on and on.

dovetail-joints--for blogUDU2Ny0yNDcuMjQ5ODM= (1)Do we rely on God to meet our needs? Our areas of lack dovetail with God’s provision. Our needs are a mortise filled with God’s perfectly-fitted tenon. It is a partnership, a melding of a finite human and the infinite God.

John 15:4-  “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 

Often our needy lives merit considerable restoration. If a piece of furniture could…

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Under Renovation

Cindi Gale

I enjoy the “before” and “after” photos of home renovations, like these pictures of the Kuppersmith Project from “Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford”.

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While Lipford renovates homes, God renovates lives. It’s exciting stuff, having the project manager of all project managers in charge of our renovations. He has great vision. There’s nothing too deteriorated, neglected, vandalized, rotted, overgrown, or overwhelming for him to take on. He’ll transform, overhaul, overthrow, release, clean, guide, counsel … you name a problem and he has a solution. In time, our “after” photos show a remarkable transformation.

But keep in mind that any pictures snapped in the middle of renovation may not appear representative of the vision. Restoration can involve some serious demolition and removal. Outdated wiring, lead paint, and asbestos have to go. Rotted windows and damaged drywall have to go. It sometimes looks worse before it looks better.

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Cut yourself some slack…

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Fall Afresh

Cindi Gale

John 14:15-18 “If you love me, keep my commands.And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Acts 2:1-2 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.”


Suddenly there came a sound from heaven: The association of the sound of a rushing mighty wind, filling the whole house, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is unusual. But it probably has connection with the fact that…

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Where Good Can Grow

You’ve probably noticed that when in the presence of certain people, you thrive. Something about their nature allows you to flourish; they draw out your best qualities and nurture their growth.

Maybe you’ve noticed the opposite, too: something about certain people causes your best self to retreat. Those people stymie your gifts, your personality, your well-intended aspirations and values — they quench your potential.

Difficult people will always be in your midst, but you can control where you put down your roots. You can interact with most people without having to embed yourself in the same ground in which they are rooted. Mingle, converse, disregard, listen, learn, laugh and enjoy when you cross paths … but only plant yourself in ground where righteousness is nurtured.

There may be seasons in your life when nobody provides fertile ground for your growth. Still, you are not without opportunity to bloom — put down your roots in the love of God, in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and in the careful guidance of the Holy Spirit. In God, you are guaranteed luxuriant development of all that is good within you.

As for the people in your life, trust God to provide those who are extensions of Him, who will offer an atmosphere of righteous support and wise direction for your steady growth and betterment.


Video credit goes to the film company, MUVI, with Youtube license, muviag.

Faith Spring Forth

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It is spring. The grass greens with each passing day, perennials emerge through cool soil, daffodils and hyacinths bloom, and fragrant rains wash tree pollen from the air. As accompaniment to these sights and smells, the song, “Oceans”, has been looping in my spirit for days.

The lyrics are about expanding faith, about trusting, about going where we have not gone before. It is about stepping not merely where we step by nature, but where He beckons us — to the supernatural. Will we walk upon the waters wherever He may call us?

The song is a challenge to overcome our doubts by choosing to grow our trust. It is a beckoning to follow Him into the great unknown. It is about trusting not self, but God. Will we allow Him to replace our thoughts with His, our plans with His? Are our words platitudes, or do we truly believe that with Him we can participate in the miraculous?

I wonder, just how vast are His ways? If we dare to trust, how far into the realm of possibilities might we travel?

Spring. In this season of new life and growth, I hope for faith to flourish, and for steps to find the firm, sure footing of the miraculous.

DSCN0615Matthew 14:22-33 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”


Hillsong United – Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) – Lyrics – Zion 2013. Copyright belongs to Hillsong United and their music producers. To purchase song – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/zio… .

A Lot Can Happen

A lot can happen in 3 days, crown

Mark 10:27 – “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

If the miraculous ways and promises of God haven’t appeared in your life yet, it doesn’t mean they never will.

If in three days the son of man died a prolonged death on a cross; the world went dark in the middle of the day; he descended to hell and back; a stone was rolled to seal his grave and rolled back again to find it empty; angels appeared there to proclaim “Jesus is alive!”; and he was in fact alive on earth again, conversing with two followers as they walked together on the road to Emmaus …

Imagine what can happen for you in just three days.

It only takes a minute to meet someone who changes your life forever; to open an acceptance letter or a desperately-needed gift; to forgive your greatest debtor; to see what you couldn’t see before; to hear what you couldn’t hear before; to experience a miracle …

A lot can happen in an instant.

When Christ rose to new life, it was for you to also know his resurrection power; it was for you to unveil the things impossible without God but possible with him.

God’s promises may remain obscured in your life for now, but …

Remember what happened in just three days. 

Philippians 3: 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.