Monday, 23 July 2018

But Who Am I?

Identity Crisis

So as you all know, I got married late last year. It was an awesome wedding (my personal favorite); held in my parents' front yard with a bluegrass band and handmade d├ęcor, it was just our style. Anyway, with the wondrousness of getting married also came the headache of changing my name. 

Oh yeah, that's a little tid-bit of fun that no one really prepares you to handle. It starts with a trip to the social security office (which for most people is seamless; I however, forgot my SSN when I got my marriage license and had to sort a whole mess of problems, including my hubby being legally married to a man from IL... Ooops). Regardless, that's just the start. Then you have to get your driver's license changed and then all your bank documents, accounts, subscriptions, etc. After almost 9 months of being "Mrs. Whitaker" I am still finding accounts that I have not yet updated. It's a big deal.

I had a run-in with one of the banks due to them not wanting to use my new name to open an account because I was already on file with my old name. It was a source of frustration for me because I was thinking the whole time as they opened up a new account under my old name of "Carolyn Reams," "That's not me anymore, that person does not exist." I knew who I was and wanted to be seen as such. The things that called me according to my past did not reflect the person that I am today.

If you were wondering where this post was going, it's here: when we come to Christ, we are reborn as "New Creations." Scripture tells us that the old has passed away, behold all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17). When someone calls or treats us according to our old nature, we should not go along with it. God has revolutionized who we are. It is not like Jesus came in and gave us a make-over. That's too much like a divine cover-up. Instead, He changed the very make-up of who we are!!!! I really want that to get through.... He changed the very make-up of who we are!!!!

We are no longer sinners. Before you call me a heretic, I did NOT say that we don't sin any more BUT that we are not longer called according to our old nature (aka: "sinners"). We often look at Paul's discourse in Romans 7 as a stand-alone chapter (this is where he talks about how he doesn't do what he wants to do and does do what he doesn't want to do regarding sin). But it doesn't stop at chapter seven, and his argument didn't start there either.

Take a look with me. In chapter 6 he says: v7 "For the one who has died has been set free from sin. v10-11 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourself dead to sin... v18 &22 and having been set free from sin, have been made slaves of righteousness. These are just a few of the verses where Paul declares our freedom from our past way of life (if it is our past way of life, STOP speaking like you're still a sinner!!). A sinner by definition is someone who is still stuck in sin, if you're in Christ you've been freed from sin, so start living in your freedom.

Those verses I shared deal with what is before chapter 7, where Paul talks about his flesh. What comes after is often overlooked. Chapter 7 ends with Paul saying "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the Law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." THEN in chapter 8 he continue (the reader should understand that when Paul wrote, he did not use chapter breaks so his reader would not have confused this as a separated thought). He says: "There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.!"

Hallelujah! I'm not a "sinner" I am a slave to righteousness!!! There's a saying out there in the church that seems good on the surface, "I'm just a sinner saved by grace." It has the appearance of humility, but it neglects the POWER of Jesus that transformed you into a new creation. Sinners get saved by grace... and then they are not sinners anymore. That's the glory of our God!! He made beauty out of what was worthless, not by lowering His standards and accepting sinners into His kingdom but by loving sinners so much He transformed them into saints.

My fellow saints, identity is HUGE! I heard today in a sermon from Benny Hinn that the enemy sees you as you see yourself. If you see yourself as a sinner, he's gonna jump on that like a cat on a mouse. If you see yourself as the redeem, righteous hands of Jesus then your foe trembles in fear.

This issue of identity is heavy on my heart. For a long time I was a saved Christian but still lost. I didn't know who I was or who God made me to be. I hope to write more on this topic, as I learn more myself. It's a journey and it starts when God called us out of sin into sainthood.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

It's Super-Natural!

Well folks, hello again. I know, I know, it's been a year since I last wrote; but hey, if you're gonna start writing again you gotta do it some time. :) Now is as good as any.

Funny how life changes. Since my last post, I've gotten married, bought a house, gone to Bible school (not what you think), and gotten a dog... Oh! and I've come back to the US of A. :) If that were not enough, I also was led to start a new ministry at my church for young adults (and convinced
by a friend to start writing this blog again). So here it goes...

By my title, you may have guessed that some crazy awesome things have happened, and you'd be right! Last night the young adult group went to worship at the beach. I figured there is no greater place while living in FL to see the greatness of God and engage in inspired worship. I was right... But not for the reasons I thought. I was expecting a calm and sweet trip to the coast, to see the ocean and the sky and reflect on its bigness and how great God was. Instead, He struck us all with the awe of His power and glory!

Reckless Trust Being Tested 
You see, in FL we have these things called, thunderstorms. Every day around 5pm the skies open up and a torrent washes away the heat of the day (at least during summer). One would think a "wise leader" such as myself (that statement is in question) would have expected that our evening event in the open air would be subject to these storms and would have planned to visit the coast during a less stormy time of year. But no, not me. I thought nothing of it while planning, and to my surprise it all turned out for the better.

You see, as we were driving all together in a 15 passenger van, the skies opened up, pour water from the heavens that nearly eclipsed our sight of the road ahead. We made the choice to keep driving, as I had planned for a friend from Vero to meet us 2 hours north of him at Cocoa Beach. Lightning was striking all around and all hope of clear skies was eliminated. We began to pray. We spoke of the greatness of our God and His power over the storm. We prayed for the waters to part and for us to worship on dry ground. We prayed that the rain would surround us but not touch us and the storm would make way for His worshipers. Things were bleak, the thought of turning around crossed my mind more than once. I was responsible for those who followed me out there and I didn't want to put them in danger. Driving on these roads seemed as if I'd already done that. But we had started out to see God's glory at the ocean and I felt that He would make a way for His worshipers. If nothing else, we would have a bonding time of finding shelter. Again, I will say, it looked as though there was no hope. Some of our party who were in different vehicles turned back but I was determined that we would at least give God the chance to work a miracle. And work one He did!

Unexpected Glory
We arrived at the coast and to our awe and amazement, there was no rain above. Praising Him because of His miraculous answer to prayer we walked down to the seaside and again we saw the glory of God. Lightning was striking over the water, rain came down to our left and darkness was on our right. We stood with mouths agape as again and again in the skies God performed a heavenly light show for us.

We worshiped there and sang praises to our God, we meditated on the things He has done for us and marveled at His glory. That was not all the Lord did for us, as if He were drawing the curtain and lighting a performance stage, the sky lit up shades of orange and pink and red as the sun neared its resting place. Again, awe gripped our hearts. A natural phenomenon that for us was supernatural.

One Thing
The thing that we saw was an answer to prayer; we witnessed God in His divinity and power show off a little. We went to the coast to see His creative glory and were blown away by His majesty. The I ponder is "what would have happened if we had not endured the storm?" In short, we would have thought our night was ruined. We would have NOT seen God answer our prayer. We would have Not witnessed His expounded glory. We would have walked away disappointed.

God taught me last night not to give up when the storm closes in, when things look impossible and hope disappears behind the clouds... maybe that's when breakthrough is about to come. Perhaps God is waiting for your perseverance, perhaps His delay is for a greater display of His glory. Perhaps your breakthrough is around the corner.

Nothing Impossible
As we drove, I wanted all of our young people to pray with me in faith that God would come through for us. I turned to the back and asked "Would you pray with me for the impossible?" The reply I got was, "Nothing is impossible for God." This is SO TRUE! Nothing is impossible for our God!! We saw the impossible happen, but we would not have witnessed our answer to prayer if we had turned back.