In Christ I am – God Workmanship

In Ephesians 2:10, it states that we are God’s workmanship or His creation. To go along with that particular idea, I thought today would be a great time to share my God-sized Dream buddy Laurie Wallin’s book Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful.

I was given an early copy to read and review, and I loved this it! I love Laurie’s fresh and insightful way of looking at this topic – the idea that the weird quirk that embarrasses you or that makes you feel like a weirdo, might just have been given to you, on purpose, by God. Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful is now available for purchase, and because this is launch week, if you buy your copy this week, there are lots of wonderful freebies available to you, so be sure to check those out HERE. You can also connect with Laurie on her Facebook page!

 

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I thought it would be fun to Q & A with Laurie about her new book, so I hope you’ll join in the conversation in the comments section.

Q: When did the idea that our individual quirks–those personal weirdnesses that drive us crazy sometimes–are part of who God created us to be?
A: The pivotal moment was while reading a colleague’s blog post. She shared how frustrated she was with her tendency to overthink things, and how she prayed God would make her different. I couldn’t put a finger on it at the time, but that got under my skin. I was mad! Not at her, but at the situation. . . that clearly gifted people spent so much time lamenting how they are. And how easy a strategy that would be for Satan to use to keep us distracted from living well. If we’re fighting who we are most of the time, we’re missing out on the reflection of God’s image that is trying to show through us. I went back and commented on this post, asking, simply, what if God made you that way because something about that tendency reflects something about Him, rather than it being a flaw? We went back and forth about the idea for a few comments, and ultimately, she said, “You need to write a post about this.” I did, it went viral, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Q: Why do you think it’s important for women to see their weirdness as wonderful?
Women, in particular, have this fog of expectation clouding our view of ourselves and each other. The more I studied personal strengths, the more I noticed that 1) the things that annoy me in other people are them living their strengths and either me not appreciating them in the situation, or them not living them in a loving way; and 2) the things that annoyed me about myself suffered from the same two issues. So I started asking myself “What strength is she trying to live right now?” when I sensed jealousy or frustration or judgment creeping up with a friend. You know what happened? Where I used to feel insecure, I started noticing a desire to see the good in others and celebrating—affirming—the God-glimpses I saw in them. As a woman, to be able to feel secure in the face of others is a HUGE change to what we often experience. It makes us allies, supporters of each other, champions of what God’s doing in each other’s lives, instead of defenders of what we think is insufficient in ourselves.

Q: In the book you talk about the dark sides and positive sides of our quirks. Could you give a few examples for readers?
A: As a Star Wars fan, I’ve always related to the whole Dark Side, Light Side (or, as I call it in the book, Life Side) idea. God invests tendencies in us, and we either love Him and others with them (reveal their Life Sides) or we live from fear (Dark Sides). The most common struggle strengths I hear about from people are tendencies to overthink things, be too sensitive, worry too much, argue too much, or be controlling. There are a lot of possible strengths hiding in these Dark Sides, and maybe they come from different strengths in different situations. For example, overthinking can be the Dark Side of being analytical, an achiever, someone who is contextual and sees connections between anything done or said now, and what it will effect. Being overly sensitive can be the Dark Side of empathetic, compassionate, or spiritually discerning individuals. Worrying too much is the fear-driven Dark Side of many prayer warriors I know. It’s not an exact science, but the important thing is to allow the question—to stop fighting who we are long enough to let God show us what is possible in us right then.

Q: Can you pinpoint a quirk of your own that you now appreciate, even though it once drove you crazy?
A: Everyone I’ve worked with has one strength they can’t, for the life of them, see being a strength. I’m no exception! Mine is the need to make a difference and matter to people. Anyone who knows anything about Christian beliefs will see pride all over that. For years, I fought God, asking Him why I need to be the one on center stage, why I need to be involved in projects that are high profile and far-reaching. It was a sore spot and something I wanted to hide about myself for years. Until only a few years ago, actually. When I started writing this book, I had to sit down and face my big-scary-strength/weakness. I literally sat at a table in my neighborhood hangout with journal in front of me me, pen in hand, sucking down coffee for hours. In that time, God brought to mind projects I’d taken on over the years that nobody else wanted or would touch. Yes, I wanted to be the one at the mic at retreats. But I also was the one who saw a need in my then-classroom and hunted down grants, applied for them, and pulled in thousands of dollars of funding and 20 computers for my science program. I’m a big thinking gal, and in God’s hands it can bring big good. In mine, of course, it’s prideful and annoying. The job every day for me is to listen to His voice and only go after the big fish He leads me to pursue, the way He’s leading me to do it!
How can women embrace their weirdness? Where should they start? First, we have to decide to suspend judgment about our natural tendencies. This one trips a lot of people up. They’re scared that if they do that, they’re dropping their moral standards. But that’s not what I’m saying. I’m asking people to stop assuming they understand God’s design in the ways they’ve always thought, acted and reacted in life. His thoughts are higher than ours, after all, right? So step one is to notice when we’re making ourselves feel bad about some way we are, like when we use negative words to describe ourselves (overthinker, worry wart, impatient, lazy. . .) and stop right then to chat with God about it. To say, “What natural desire or strength of mine is wanting to come out right now? How would YOU reveal that trait, God?” Then, let God tell you what He thinks. And keep eyes open to see His answers to the questions unfold in life and relationships.

Q: How do you suggest women maximize their quirks to build God’s kingdom?
A: The more we listen to what God meant when He designed us the way He did—quirks and all—the more we let God reveal His heart for the world around us. The more we’re attuned to the unique ways God designed us to think, communicate, plan, care and relate with others, the more people are drawn to Him, and the kingdom grows.

Q: How can they maintain a balanced perspective about quirks and weirdnesses?
A: Our weirdness—our blend of strengths and their quirky upside down versions—stays balanced when we focus it on loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving other people as ourselves. The Greatest Commandment is our great balancer in this tightrope walk of living our weirdness wonderfully.

In Christ I am – No Longer Sin’s Slave

We have an ant problem. I’m not sure where they came from. I haven’t seen one single ant all winter, but as soon as we had a few warmer days, all of a sudden, there they were – swarms of them – in the bathroom. I’ve never understood this since I don’t keep food in my bathroom. So, out came the ant traps. We found these liquid ones that work great. I have to admit though, that I feel kind of guilty when I watch the ants march so purposefully toward their own deaths. I mean, they can’t help it that they are insects.

At the same time, though, my kids and I are sort of fascinated by how it all works. Before we break out the trap, the ants sort of mill around without any seeming organization, but once we get the trap out, it’s like some invisible drill sergeant has told them to fall in. The ants march into the trap in a single line and then come out again. Often, they go in more than once. Some stagger out again, half poisoned, but others just die in the trap.

Even though the ants going in and out have to see all the tiny corpses of their little friends, they just keep marching in and out of the trap. My kids and I both have the same question – WHY do they keep going in there? Don’t they see that it is a really bad idea?

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As I was watching this little drama unfold in my bathroom, God gave me an epiphany.  As I watched the macabre march of the ants, it occurred to me that we do the same thing as believers.

Of course, I don’t mean literally. What I mean is that we continue to believe that we can overcome sin if we just try hard enough, if we just are a little more disciplined. Sometimes, that message is even preached from our pulpits – with every good intention – but it is poison.

We continue to march by our fallen comrades, strangled by strongholds of sin and think that it will somehow be different for us because we will just try harder and do better. We take in the poisonous false truth that in our own strength we can overcome sin. The truth is – we can’t.

BUT – Greater is He that is in me than he that has overcome the world.

Have you ever had a sinful thought that pops into your brain and no matter how you try to shake it, it just keeps popping back in there. Sure, you try to take every thought captive. You try to quote a verse or maybe sing a praise song, but then it comes back. Usually, satan whispers it into your ear when you’re tired or your guard is down, so you aren’t as inclined to take it captive. Then that sinful thought runs amok.

Well, I was having that issue. I had prayed about it. I had told myself to get a grip on this thought. I had felt inadequate that I couldn’t seem to run the thought out of my head once and for all. I felt kind of defeated and at the mercy of this sin. I felt embarrassed and ashamed at my inability because, after all, I’m a Sunday school teacher. I write about God’s presence in my life. Surely, I should be able to win in this battle, right, if I just tried a little harder?

One day, I prayed – AGAIN – about this sin. In answer, it was like God whispered to me, “You are no longer sin’s slave, so stop acting like you still are.”

Suddenly, it became crystal clear what the problem was. See, even though I could mouth all the right words, inside, I believed sin was my master and I had to figure out how to escape on my own.

But I was trying to escape a master who no longer had any authority over me on my own when I had back up! It’s true – I am weak, but God is strong. His authority can overcome. So, I claimed that authority in Jesus name, and you know what? The stronghold loosened and fell away.

I don’t want this to come across as some kind of magic chant, or that I never struggled again. Because a few weeks after this victory, I was tired and in a bad mood and satan struck and I fell. Why? Because I let my guard down. The truth is we are at war, and if satan can’t keep you from salvation, he will keep you from living abundantly in Christ. There are two times we are the weakest. One is obvious – after defeat, but the other one trips a lot of people up (me included!), and that is after victory.

Claiming Christ’s authority over sin doesn’t preclude true repentance. It doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down. It doesn’t mean we don’t draw our sword – I am a firm believer in Scripture as a way to counterattack sin in our lives. What it DOES mean is that we do NOT have to white knuckle our way to overcoming in our own strength. Christ has already the conqueror. I’ve read the end of the book, and we win. We do not have to live as a slave to sin or let it master us because we have a completely different master – one that loves us and WANTS us to live in victory.

I love this bridge that Chris Tomlin wrote for the song Amazing Grace. It seemed particularly apt today.

 

 

My chains are gone

I’ve been set free

My God, my Savior, ransomed me

And like a flood

His mercy reigns

Unending love

Amazing grace

By Chris Tomlin

How has God set YOU free from a stronghold in your life? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne

 

 

In Christ I am – Lavished by God’s Grace

This month, as we are leading up to the Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we are taking some time to reflect who we are IN CHRIST. If you want to read a little bit about how God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, you can read about that here.

Today, I am writing about something we talk a lot about in church, but I’m not sure we really believe it’s for us – well, at least not after salvation that is. That is GRACE. I think most of you, if I asked, would say that you can’t earn your salvation, that it was Christ’s work on the cross that paid your sin debt, that there is no way you could work or earn your way to heaven (and if you do think you have to earn your way to heaven, please read this).

The thing is though, AFTER our salvation, we start acting like if we are only good enough, God will love us more. That if we do too many bad things or mess up too often, we will run out of God’s grace. Like it is somehow finite. Limited.

I’m hoping that after today, you can let go of that idea. In Ephesians 1:8,9, it says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”

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You’ll notice that it says “we have” – not we had or we got, but we have. What do we have? We have redemption, forgiveness and His grace. And we don’t have just enough grace to save us. Nope – God lavishes grace on us out of His riches.

Since I am a word nerd, I looked up the word riches and lavish in the Greek. The word riches is the Greek word ploutos which means “fullness, abundance, plenitude” and it is out of the root that mean full or be filled. Lavished is the Greek word perisseuo and it means “left over and above a certain amount.”

This verse gives us a picture of God’s grace that is overflowing and plentiful – it’s not something He passes out in stingy little servings. We can never run through all of God’s grace. We will never get to the bottom of the grace barrel.

Grace always seems a little too good to be true. I mean, sure, God loves us enough to save us from hell, but lavish us with grace? Doesn’t that kind of grace only belong to people who sell everything they own and go to Africa, or the pastor or some extra spiritual like that?

The Good News is that we not only get salvation, we get a new identity, and that identity comes with some pretty awesome perks – one of the best of which is lavish grace.

You are God’s precious child. Even if you come to Him and you have a smudge of mud on your face and your hands are grimy from digging in the dirt, He sees the beloved child underneath all that. No matter what you do or don’t do, He is always waiting for you with His arms open wide.

It’s because His grace never runs out that you can always run to Him. – Tweet This!

Blessings, Rosanne

p.s. A great read on the topic of grace is Can I Get a Do-Over? by Elizabeth Ward. Btw, when I recommend books on here, it’s because I’ve read them and liked them myself. 🙂

p.s.s. Today, I’m linking up with Holley Coffee for Your Heart 150Gerth – don’t forget to visit her site for more posts that will encourage your heart!

In Christ I am

Last Wednesday was the beginning of the Lenten season. I was not raised in a denomination that celebrates Lent, but as I’ve done various articles, I see the benefit of focused attention on the weeks leading up to Jesus’ death and glorious resurrection.

Traditionally, or at least how I’ve always seen it, Lent is about giving up something, but this month, I want to focus on what being IN CHRIST really means.

This is something God has been teaching me lately -who I am in Him. Not who I am because of what I do, but who I am because of what HE did FOR me.

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(You can receive this word art as a free downloadable printable when you sign up to follow Divine Ordinary!)

So many time I get caught up in what I do – not who I truly am. How would you describe yourself? Do you define yourself by the roles you fulfill in your life – things like mom, wife, daughter, or church volunteer? When we identify ourselves by what we do rather than who we are, we miss out on all that God has created us to be.

I’ve been doing a study in Ephesians on spiritual warfare and as I read the first chapter of Ephesians, I was overcome by all that God says I am. In Ephesians 1:3, it says, that we are “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

This is one of the first things Paul writes about who the Ephesians are IN CHRIST. I think it is significant that it comes so early in the book because this is a book that talks a lot about spiritual warfare and how to defeat out enemy.

We can’t defeat the enemy when we don’t know who we are. Tweet This!

This morning I was drinking my morning coffee and scrolling through Facebook when I came across a post that stopped me mid-sip. You can find the story online at the Washington Times.

The story is about 33 North Korean believers that were going to be executed by Kim Jong this morning for the crime of starting underground churches. He accused them of trying to take over the government as an excuse to execute them.

Later, as I sat in church, I looked around and tried to imagine what it would be like for 33 people in the pews around me being taken away and killed – just because they love Jesus and told people about Him. I don’t have that fear. We may complain about policies in the U.S. these days, but I can read my Bible without fear. I can share Christ with out fear. I can have a blog that shares how to know Jesus, and I do not worry that someone is going to break down my door in the middle of the night and drag me away or kill my family because of it.

I was thinking about this series I am writing, about the fact that we are given EVERY spiritual blessing in heavenly places. Not some or a few – but every one. And yet, I often live like a spiritual pauper – not like someone who has every spiritual blessing.

Those 33 Christians really got this. It wasn’t a nice idea – it was a foundational truth that gave them the courage to give their all for Christ. If the story is correct, those 33 Christians were welcomed by Jesus this morning. They got to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”

As we sang Chris Tomlin’s song “I Will Rise,” I couldn’t stop myself from crying. The words seemed so appropriate for what was happening a world away – words that those precious 33 truly believed.

Do you believe you are who God says you are? I’d love to hear about it! 🙂

Blessings, Rosanne

I Will Rise
There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say, it is well

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagle’s wings
Before my God, fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise

There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagle’s wings
Before my God, fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing
Worthy is the Lamb
And I hear the cry of every longing heart
Worthy is the Lamb

And I hear the voice of many angels sing
Worthy is the Lamb
And I hear the cry of every longing heart
Worthy is the Lamb
(You are worthy, You are worthy)
Worthy is the Lamb

I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagle’s wings
Before my God, fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise, I will rise

By Chris Tomlin

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