Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Just for fun

How to Know You’re Aging Well

I love getting older. I am no longer in my mid-sixties, but have crossed that line. People initiate conversation with “older” people. That’s nice. Older individuals can get away with more because, well…they’re older. When I do something stupid, there seems to be more grace offered since I am older. 

But with age comes wisdom. The book of Proverbs states, “…the gray hair of experience is the spender of the old.” (20:29) Splendor sure sounds positive! Here are four observations that I have made about life at this age. I hope they give you something to look forward to.

  1. You will recognize a greater level of self-awareness. The older I become, the less I obsess about myself (disappearing hair, style, shaving, etc.) and find more joy in being other-centered. 
  2. You require less control. I find that I more readily admit that I don’t know something and feel okay about it. I am no longer proving myself to others.
  3. We walk in a deeper level of trust with God and realize we don’t always need to know what He’s up to or why He’s taking so long with His answer. I am more settled, more relaxed and more able to wait with a deeper level of patience.
  4. We recognize the need for a greater level of separation or detachment. We work, rest and play smarter. Detachment is no longer avoiding something that I should be doing. Detaching is recognized as healthy.

There you have it; four simple observations. Oh, and one more verse from wise King Solomon, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.” (16:31)

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Challenge, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Postmarital, Women

Affairproofing Your Marriage (Part One)

Couples in the U.S. are waiting longer to marry and living together in an attempt to try it out.  These reactions are simply due to anxiety brought on by the number of marriages that are failing.  One in four marriages is ending in divorce, which is better than one in two, but not where we desire it to be.  Let me put it in a different framework:  what if one in four planes that took off crashed; how quick would you be to board one?

For some of us, many years ago we spoke something called vows that went like this: For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health…till death (not murder) do us part.  Never did we ever imagine having to face such issues.  But, truth be told, we will face these things as some of us already have.  

We all marry into brokenness.  There is no perfect marriage because there is no perfect person in marriage.  If you found the right person in marriage, you found an imperfect person.  And not only are they imperfect; you’re imperfect as well.  

Do you know why we take pictures at weddings?  Because it’s the last time you’ll see anything close to perfection.  Even some of the clothes are rented at a wedding.  Erma Bombeck said, “Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.”

Here’s the good news for those of us who are married and those of us who are not: marriage has a 100% chance of being absolutely fantastic, whole and awesome if we will commit to following Jesus and following biblical principles for marriage relationships.

Exodus 34:14 – Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

I love that.  God is jealous over you; it’s a positive thing; it’s a righteous love.  We too can become jealous as we bond with a life mate.  To be jealous is to be intolerant of rivalry, like God we become jealous because we love.  In God’s jealousy He protects, He guards His children from the foreign god, from idolatry.  As husband and wife, we guard, we protect against a foreign intruder into our marriage.  One of those foreign intruders is an affair.

An affair happens when one takes the most sacred expressions in marriage and gives them to another.  So you can have an affair without sex by giving what belongs only to your spouse to someone else.  Before this happens, however, there are numerous other issues going on.  It is like the warning lights on the dash of your car.  You can ignore them for only so long.  And while ignoring them, the problem usually grows worse.

Today, affairs are starting anywhere there is close proximity and working relationships.  Facebook is a huge source of marital failures as people find “first loves” in a desire to feel a feeling they once felt.  You can be involved in an affair simply through your computer and never meet face-to-face.

We are all potential vow breakers.  If we think it can’t happen to us we can become sloppy and less guarded, not alert to the enemy’s schemes. To those of you who have been tempted and who gave in to that temptation, this message is not spoken to condemn you in any way.  We serve a redemptive God and He forgives.

Dr Gail Saltz psychiatrist with New York Presbyterian Hospital said this concerning affairs, “Many people convince themselves so long as there is not sex it is not an affair, but it is.  It has to do with secrecy, deception and betrayal and the emotional energy you are putting into the other person vs. your partner.  The most difficult thing to recover from is not sex, but the breaking of trust.  Those involved in an emotional affair are often in denial.  They do not think they’re having an affair at all.  The denial keeps them guilt-free and they tell themselves, ‘It’s just a friendship.’”

But one in two emotional affairs becomes a full-blown sexual affair states Dr. Saltz.

How do you know you’re in an emotional affair?  Dr Saltz shares ten warning signs:

  1. When your meetings are kept secret from your spouse.
  2. When you say and do things with someone you would never do in front of your spouse or you would feel guilty if your spouse happened to show up.
  3. When you make it a point to arrange private talk time with this person.
  4. When you share things with them that you do not share with your partner.
  5. When you avoid telling your partner how much time you may be spending with this person.
  6. When you are stating things about your marriage that you should not be telling another, opening a window to your heart and unmet emotional needs.
  7. When you begin discussing your marital dissatisfactions.
  8. When you tell this person more about your day than you do your partner.
  9. When you “ready your appearance” in anticipation of seeing this person.
  10. When there is sexual attraction spoken or unspoken between you.

Even if there is no actual touching, these are signs of an emotional affair.  The emotional high that the sexual attraction, the secrecy, the feelings provide actually becomes addictive and will perpetuate the relationship.  

To guard against ever having an emotional affair or to act in a preventative manner, live your life the opposite of the above ten warning signs. Secondly, set boundaries for your marriage relationship just like a dating couple sets sexual boundaries.  As a couple, what are you comfortable with and what are you not comfortable with (e.g., phone calls, meeting for lunch, driving in a car alone with someone of the opposite sex)?

Next week I will share part two of Affairproofing Your Marriage.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day

Worry Will Steal Your Rest

There is a thief among us. It will rob us of peace, of joy and of sleep. We weren’t created to carry stressors which lead to worry that ages us prematurely. Worry wrinkles the skin, darkens the eyes and hunches over the shoulders.

 

To worry is to be in a constant attempt to figure out or manipulate the future. It is self-torment and the heavier the worry becomes, the more effort it takes to move forward. To be in a state of worry inhibits rest.

 

I heard someone once say when we live life out of rest, we release God to work on our behalf. But when we live in a lifestyle of carrying our own load, God rests. He will allow us to stumble and fall with worry.

 

One evening for devotions, my wife and I read this verse out of Isaiah, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” Wow, we stopped and asked God to give us the grace to live in that very place, a worry-free place of peace and undisturbed rest.

 

Do you desire to dwell there too?

 

Ask Him, just as we did.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

Bonus Devotional: Day 31, Final Words

“There are two great days in a person’s life ­– the day we are born and the day we discover why.”  William Barclay

It has been the goal of this thirty day devotional for you to discover why you were born and to never let go of those truths. Thank you for joining with me and allowing me to be a small part of your devotional life. I pray that every day has been a blessing to you. Enjoy this final blog on identity and don’t forget to purchase your own book.

In the Scriptures, God chose to call Himself “Abba” or “Daddy.” It has always intrigued me that He used family language. Jesus repeatedly said that He only did what He saw His Father doing. If Jesus, the Son of God, looked to His Father, how much more do we need to get lost in His approval, esteem, identity, and love? The following verses describe this relationship so accurately.

The mature children of God are those who are moved by the impulses of the Holy Spirit. And you did not receive the “spirit of religious duty” leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the “Spirit of acceptance,” enfolding you into the family of God. And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father!” For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being, “You are God’s beloved child!” (Romans 8:14-16 The Passion Translation).

No one will force you to receive your security and identity in the Father’s love and acceptance, not even God Himself. According to the verses above, He says you are already good enough. He desires that you receive the “Spirit of acceptance” and approval. You are part of His family, never an orphan. Allow His Holy Spirit to make His Fatherhood real to you as He whispers in your innermost being: “You are God’s beloved child!”

It is unknown who first said these words, but I think they are so relevant as we close this book. “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” Together, let’s change the ending and commit to starting that change today. 

It is said that we become like those whom we spend time with. We will pick up their language, their mannerisms and sometimes their attitudes. Spending time with God is never wasted. As we learn His language, His word, His mannerisms and His attitudes, we will find ourselves becoming more and more secure in that identity. You will no longer be who you once were or thought you should be. You will become the distinctiveness of you!

It has been a pleasure to connect with you on a daily basis. You can sign up for my weekly blog at: calledtogether.wordpress.com

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Challenge, Encouragement, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

Is Your Identity for Sale?

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 26

I am seated with Christ in heavenly realms. Ephesians 2:6

I am loved with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3

I am qualified to share in the inheritance of the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:12

Imagine that you lived 2000 years ago and you just recently heard of this One named Jesus and most of what you have heard has been negative.  In some strange way, this man and the controversy that surrounds Him intrigues you.  You would love to meet Him and you think about traveling to His town.  

The thought leaves you until one day you hear that He is coming to your region and your town is in an absolute uproar. There are so many questions, so many reports circulating; why is He coming; will you see Him; will He see you?  You determine to get to the Main Street to get a closer look; you see the crowds making their way toward you and here He comes.  A strange anxiety and nervousness intensify within you as you anticipate His closeness. 

Suddenly, He’s right there in front of you and He looks your way.  You want to look down, but don’t know why.  In reality you can’t look anywhere but straight at Him.  Surprised, He’s looking straight at you—eye-to-eye.  You don’t know how to describe the feeling: His eyes, are warm, inviting, questioning.  You can’t look away; you’re undone, you’re lost in His presence and your heart is pounding.  He opens His mouth to say something, but to you it’s all in slow motion as you hear the words, “Come follow me.”  You want to say, “Who me?” but you can’t utter a word.  Without thinking, you find one foot going in front of the other and you are, in fact, following Him.

His latest teaching is strange, like He’s going somewhere that you cannot come.  You feel almost rejected, pushed out of the nest.  Being thrust into the future without Him is incomprehensible and unimaginable.  For you there’s no going back, no return.  You have caught something from Him and there is now no other way to live life.  It’s even stranger how He prays these days.  His prayer focus has shifted to something about returning to the Father and sending another to be with you and your eleven friends.  You don’t desire another; you desire only Him.  

You remember that first glance on Main Street and how His eyes met yours.  You remember feeling unclean but accepted, all at the same time.  You reflect on so many things now, things that you took for granted over the past three years.  “Go away, Jesus?  Where would you be going and why would you be going away from us?  We gave everything to follow you.  We gave up our businesses and our families.  We gave up our homes and our belongings.  We gave these things up to follow You and now You leave us and promise another?”  You scream inside, “I don’t want another. I want You.”  You go off to pray and He goes off to pray. 

Where did Jesus end and His disciples begin?  Where did His disciples end and He begin?  The relationships are so interwoven in this story and yet there is such clarity of who you are and whose you are.  Even though Jesus walked with these men for over three years, He did not request of the Father to bring them with Him or to stay a while longer with them.  Jesus knew who He was and He knew whose His disciples were.  He was not comparing Himself with the Father or in competition for the relationships.  He was not jealous or possessive of His disciples’ relationships with His Father and neither did He try to manipulate His Father’s plan.   Jesus did what He came to do and now He was leaving earth without His disciples.  (See John 17.)

Even though the Father had given these relationships to the Son, the Son respected the boundaries given Him and handed them back to the Father.  (See John 17:10 – “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine.”)

Walk with Him today. He does see you and you can see Him. You are His and He is yours.

Question for reflection:

What were you feeling as you read today’s devotional and placed yourself in the midst of the story?

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Challenge, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

You are Uniquely You II

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 25

I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live. Galatians 2:20

I have been given all things that pertain to life. II Peter 1:3

Have you ever experienced something in your past and then either externally or internally responded with the expression, I’ll never let that happen again?  Or perhaps your response was, No one will ever get close enough to hurt me that deeply in the future.  By doing so, you are literally speaking words over yourself, inhibiting your present and your future.  These words can become spoken vows, bringing destruction to future relationships and yourself.  

When you repeat the words, “I will never… again,” you are attempting to shield yourself from future hurt, but what you are actually doing is speaking curse-filled words over your present and your future.  In other words, those present-day words spoken from broken, hurtful relationships in your past have a profound effect upon your future connections.  

Victims remain victims because they harbor unforgiveness that has turned into bitterness.  Victims live out this bitterness on an ongoing basis by reliving the hurt and the pain and then telling themselves the person or persons who hurt them, who abused them or who took advantage of them deserve justice and do not deserve their forgiveness.  

It may sound harsh, but victims remain victims by living in their victimization – it keeps them in the past.  Victims do not need to change to create a better future, because we enable victims today to stay victims.  Too often, victims view themselves as powerless people, powerless to change and create a better future.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the most significant ways to be a victor today and in the future is through forgiveness.  To forget your past is not humanly possible, and the more traumatic the event it was, the less chance of forgetting.  But forgiving is a choice you can make that releases you and the one who hurt you so that you can live victoriously in the present and the future.  Isaiah reminds us to forget the past, to not dwell on the former things so we can see what God is up to today and tomorrow.  (Isaiah 43:18, 19) It is not possible to clearly see tomorrow through the cloudy lens of the past.  

But one thing I do (present): Forgetting what is behind (past) and straining toward what is ahead (future), I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (present/future).  (Philippians 3:13, 14)

And Jesus told us, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you (past/present), your heavenly Father will also forgive you (present/future).  But if you do not forgive men their sins (past/present), your Father will not forgive your sins (present/future).”  (Matthew 6: 14, 15)

True forgiveness allows us to live in freedom today because we no longer hold onto anything from our past.  Forgiveness is not a natural act; it is an act of God in our lives.  It is letting go of revenge or the thought of getting even.  

Lastly, true forgiveness will eventually allow me to forget the wrong.  Deep wounds can lose their sting long before the mind forgets.  When we suffer a deep cut, we tend to it immediately.  We require an x-ray, injections to numb the pain, and it is eventually sewn up.  Antibiotics are administered, a tetanus shot is certain, and the wound is watched for weeks to come.  When it comes to emotional wounds we often administer a little bit of, “Oh, it’s not very deep, it doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t need any spiritual attention.”  

For each of us to be distinctly and uniquely who we are created to be, forgiveness is an essential ingredient.

Question for reflection:

In what ways have you ever expressed spoken vows out of hurt or abuse, hoping to control the world around you so that the wounding does not continue?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

You are Uniquely You

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 24

I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Ephesians 1:3

I am the temple of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 6:19

Every decision we make is made through our past experiences, our present desires and thoughts or our future wants or needs.  God has created us with the capacity to think within all three of these realms or dimensions.  The memory capacity of our brains is simply amazing, as it provides for us the knowledge needed from past experience for decision making today.

Just imagine if we lacked memory.  We would not know how to drive home from work today.  We would not know or be able to identify our spouse in the morning when we wake up.  We would have to start each new day reading a memory log from the day before: who we are, where we live, where we work or go to school.  Life would function so differently.  We can conclude memory is not only necessary for life, it provides so much wonderful meaning to life.

The Bible says what we sow, we reap (See Galatians 6:7, 8.).  What I sow today, determines the return I will have on that seed tomorrow.  If I desire a certain crop in the future, then I have to sow that seed today.  Not one farmer expects to reap where they have not sown, but every farmer fully expects to reap where they have sown.  You may expect to be a millionaire one day in the future, but if you do nothing and place no effort toward that goal today, you will never see it.  It is easy to then become deceived into thinking you’ll win the lottery or inherit that million, but without earning it.  The scriptures describe this type of gain as ill-gotten treasure.  (Proverbs 10: 2)

Do you want to live in health in your latter years?  Take measures today to exercise and eat healthy because when reaching tomorrow, today will be the past.  Do you desire to be free of pain from your past?  Then do something about it today and forgive those who have hurt you and bless those who have cursed you.  

Unfortunately, I experienced a lot of cavities as a child.  My family did not use toothpaste with fluoride in it.  Fluoride wasn’t even marketed in those days.  My trips to the dentist were fear-filled and excruciating.  Today, I pay the price of dealing with crowns to save my teeth.  My past dental care affects my present oral condition and will continue to affect my future.  

You just cannot separate these three: the past, the present and the future.  But you can start making decisions in alignment with God’s word and His direction for your life.  A better decision today means a better outcome tomorrow.  A destructive decision today means certain pain in our future.

For example, are you a worrier?  I mean, does your mind immediately go to the exercise of worry when an unknown is surfacing?  Or, is your response to a present worrisome issue one of going to your heavenly Father in prayer and trust?  One response is trusting and relying upon yourself and your capacity to worry (needing to solve the issue yourself) and the other is trusting God and His capacity to intervene both in the here-and-now and the future.  Philippians 4: 6,7 reminds us to not be anxious and if we’ll petition God along with giving thanks, the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.  Peace does not follow worry; it follows prayer and trusting God, literally giving our worry to God.  (See Psalm 37: 1-8.)

Question for reflection:

If you find yourself to be a worrier, how does your worry affect your present-day life?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Identity, Issues of the Day

Sex and Gender ID II

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 22

I am a saint and loved by God. Romans 1:7

I am accepted by Christ. Romans 15:7

I have died to sin…and alive to God. Romans 6:2, 11

What would it look like for someone who is experiencing sexual brokenness or gender dysphoria to become a follower of Jesus?  Author Andrew Walker says, “It would be very, very hard.  And yet, at the same time, it would be experientially and eternally worthwhile.”  He says that each of us have a cross to bear.  That may include cancer, undesired singleness or any number of issues.  

In Matthew 16:24, 25, Jesus told us, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Andrew writes, “To carry a cross means to deny ourselves – to lose whatever defined and directed our lives before we met our Maker, came to him as our Savior and began to follow him as our Lord.”  

Paul the Apostle, in pleading with God to take away an issue in his life, wrote about it this way in II Corinthians 12: 9, 10, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Not one of us asks for this cross.  We do not seek a cross to carry.  We like a carefree and comfortable life to live and we abhor the uncomfortable.  As I travel the world, I have seen the slum where three quarters of a million people live in Kenya.  I have seen the poverty and the lack of any governmental control in Haiti. I have been in places where overcontrolling governments say that Christianity cannot be openly practiced.  These believers live daily with these crosses and they take them on willingly, as normality, without complaint.  

Henri Nouwen wrote, “The great spiritual call of the Beloved Children of God is to pull their brokenness away from the shadow of the curse and put it under the light of the blessing.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  The power of darkness around us is strong, and our world finds it easier to manipulate self-rejecting people than self-accepting people.  But when we keep listening attentively to the Voice calling us the Beloved, it becomes possible to live our brokenness, not as a confirmation of our fear that we are worthless, but as an opportunity to purify and deepen the blessing that rests upon us.  Physical, mental, or emotional pain lived under the blessing is experienced in ways radically different from physical, mental, or emotional pain lived under the curse.”

What are you waiting for?  We each have a choice to make.  We choose to submit our sexuality to God and His plan or we do not.  We take a hard stand and choose His way or we cast off restraint and go full-on our way.  Either God’s grace is sufficient for each of us no matter what we deal with or we determine it is not.  Either way, we are left with the consequences of our decisions.  Deciding God’s way may mean having a certain cross to bear, but it will not last forever and it will lead us into an eternity of God’s pleasure.  He is preparing a place for us and He longs for each one of us to choose His way in order to enter into that place.  (See John 14:1-3.)

Question for reflection:

Can you identify any cross that you are presently bearing?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Healing, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day, Men, Pornography, Women

Sexual Brokenness II

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 20

For freedom Christ has set me free. Galatians 5:1

I have the mind of Christ. I Corinthians 2:16

God has always said “Yes” to sex because He is the creator of it.  He has some very clear boundaries with that yes because He has our best interests in mind.  We do not have the right to rewrite or change His word according to our feelings.  

In the Old Testament, one of the priest’s areas of responsibility was to “teach [the] people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.” (Ezekiel 44:23) It seems that ever since the fall of man recorded in Genesis 3, we think we have a better way than God and are out to prove Him wrong, except that we keep getting deeper and deeper into trouble.  We bend the rules further and further away from His moral code, and daily we suffer the consequences of those selfish choices.

Sexual brokenness is a worldwide epidemic, with human sex trafficking as the newest form of slavery to plague our world.  Our insatiable desire for “sexual freedom” has led us right back to slavery in order to feed our base desires.  How much more wicked can our world become than to take fellow human beings, sell them into the sex trade, and then discard them as though they were worthless?  The heart of God surely must be broken over such depravity.

If there is no line drawn for our culture, our nation and our lawmakers, then how do we make any activity illegal or abhorrent, a “crossing over the line”? We need to uphold a standard that establishes that line.  That standard must come from outside of our personal desires and emotions, otherwise it becomes what is right for me and too bad for you.

To add to the tragedy of our day, we have something called pornography.  At one time it was difficult to obtain, as one had to visit seedy places to purchase it.  Today, all we need to do is turn on our phone or computer and, voila, we have any form of destructive, degrading, demeaning and devaluing film that we desire to view.  The incidents of pornography use are decimating today, starting with children in grade school.  It is highly addictive.  It has destroyed individual lives and it has shattered whole families. 

By viewing pornography, you are feeding an industry of sex trafficking, disease and death.  You are destroying your mind, your soul and polluting your spirit.  It takes the sexual gift that God gave to us and perverts it for short-term gratification and lust-filled pleasure.  If you are viewing pornography, you are tearing down any sense of esteem and identity that God is desiring to build within you.  There is nothing redemptive within this sin-filled habit and I appeal to you to seek immediate help so you can leave the grips of this tormentor. 

The Apostle Paul, a man who at one time zealously persecuted Christians, had a dramatic encounter with the living God, and gave his life to Jesus, penned these words with Timothy, his spiritual son and co-laborer for Christ.  He encourages us to press on toward the goal for which Christ took hold of us, to forget what is behind and look ahead.  If at times we find ourselves in disagreement, God will make His truth clear to us if we sincerely desire to hear His voice.  As we posture ourselves with an open heart, set our minds not on our selfish desires or earthly things, He will transform our minds and our bodies so that we can be like Him.

That is our goal: to be like Him; to have His mind.  In all we think, in all we speak, and in all we do, our goal is to be like our Lord and Savior.  He gave His life so that we can walk in sexual freedom in obedience to Him. Let us live knowing that our bodies are temporary, our spirits are eternal, and that He has made a way for us to live with Him eternally. 

Questions for reflection:

Have you been able to identify any sexual brokenness from your history and how can Jesus bring freedom to you?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Identity, Insecurity, Issues of the Day

Sexual Brokenness

A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 19

I am kept by God’s power. I Peter 1:5

I am in Christ Jesus by God’s act. I Corinthians 1:30

I am redeemed from the curse of the law. Galatians 3:13

When we or our culture or the “experts” link our identity to our sexuality, we are allowing our sexuality to define who and what we are.  I love this thought from the scripture that states, “For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works…”  (Ephesians 2:10) You are a product of God, not your history, not your environment and certainly not whatever lies you have been told about your sexuality and your identity.  

When the teachers of the law brought the woman who was caught in adultery (interesting to note that they did not bring the man as well, because under the moral code of the law, both had committed a crime punishable by death), they wanted to know (as a test) what Jesus would do with her.  Both they and Jesus were aware that adultery was a sin that required death according to the law.  Jesus responded that whichever one of them was without sin could cast the first stone, and as they walked away one by one, He turned to the woman and forgave her.  But He did more than forgive her; He told her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:7-11) Jesus was saying that adultery is still sin, but that He had the power to forgive the sin and cleanse the sinner.

While sexuality is tied in to who we are as a human being, it is not our identity.  What does that mean?  We are not primarily sexual beings; we are primarily spiritual beings who live in a body, have a mind, will and emotions and have the capacity to act sexually.  Our sexuality does not define us; God defines us as created in His image.  It is our spirit that is the eternal part of us and it is our spirit that is to lead the emotional, the physical and the sexual.  

For too many, Jesus has become convenient, no more than a means to escape eternal separation from God.  Meanwhile, they believe they can live according to how they personally interpret the scriptures (if they are even reading the scriptures).  We cannot say we love Jesus only to the point where His words inconvenience us, and then rewrite the scriptures to match our personal beliefs.  Jesus was a reformer, a revolutionary who taught an inconvenient reality.  Even in our culture today, if you or I believe what He taught, it will be inconvenient.  In fact, Jesus warned us that as He was persecuted for what He exposed and taught, we would be as well. (See John 15:18, 19.)  

True freedom is possible for any sin or sickness that human beings have had to face since the third chapter of Genesis.  While the Old Testament exposes the sin, the New Testament provides the truth of the Incarnate One, the Redeemer of this sin.  The Old Testament scriptures are vital to understanding the New Covenant.  It is the old that makes a way for the new.

Too often Christians believe there is no need to read the books of the law or the major and minor prophets.  “That was the Old Covenant,” they repeat, “and we are under a New Covenant.”  But this statement is only partially true.  You cannot have a new without the old.  Jesus Himself walked on this earth under the Old Covenant, and He addressed the need for the Law of Moses.  He taught this law, and He walked in obedience to it. When Jesus was placed upon the cross to die for all of mankind, it would be the dividing mark for the Old and the New Covenant.  We are grateful for the old, all the while we live in the new. It was an act of the Father to bring us to His Son as we are made free from sin and death by God’s power.

Question for reflection:

Reflect on this statement: “You are a product of God, not your history, not your environment and certainly not whatever lies you have been told about your sexuality and your identity.”

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