Calling Sons Out & Blessing Their Future

Good Words to My Five Sons. May this encourage you, too.

One: Arise from the battlefield and behold. Though death and wounds exist, you stand like warriors of old shouting victory with the sword of truth pointed to GOD Almighty. His last cry on the cross was a victory cry, it is your security in suffering. Morning has dawned in your life. Joy is going to flood into your soul like a pool of water in the wilderness. Pant after Him and His love. It shall be better than life and make His Presence distinguish you among all the other writers & teachers. You have suffered the loss of a daughter, and courageously carried her casket in front of a cloud of witnesses, leading us to sing a hymn. Your other daughters adore you, and your son looks to you for the fatherly blessing.

Two: You shall prosper & be mighty in the land. No weapon formed against you shall stand. You shall rejoice soon when morning comes with joy and your name all over it. You shall stand tall in your identity and be posted secure in your calling as a Gospel preacher. Fear not, GOD is with you. It SHALL come to pass. Shepherd the flock under your care – your wife and four little sheep.

Three: You shall prosper and be established in the land. You shall mount up and be established on firm ground. No one can stand against you when you will become God-hungry and humbly love well. Morning is come with joy and victory over mourning, weeping, & darkness in your life. Stay near Him whose Presence shall distinguish you as a father to your sons and soon-coming-daughter.

Four: The Lord is establishing you. Morning dawns with joy in your life. No more weeping, darkness, and night. It has ended. Soon you shall be fortified to enter more fully a age-old battle of generations and enjoy your inheritance. No one will be able to stand against you as you draw near, panting after God. His Presence alone is what will distinguish you among all the others. Fear not. See how God gave you pastoral ministry with a man of God, and there is much to learn.

Five: You shall prosper and be mighty in the land. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. God will establish the work He has begun in you.  A time is coming, soon, when Nehemiah 6:16 shall come to pass in your life. Indeed, this is happening now. See how God has raised you up at such a young age in that high tower of a work place. Walk humbly under God’s mighty Hand, and He shall exalt you to make much of Him in due time. You are pursuing a godly woman, and i delight in your masculinity.

Tempted to be Someone You are Not?

In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus was tempted by Satan when He was obedient and loved by the Father, led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He was tempted when He was alone and hungry before preaching from Isaiah 61 in His hometown in three ways:

  1. Be Self-Centered: turn the stones into bread. Use creation and people for yourself.
  2. Be Spectacular: fall from the top of the temple and the angels will catch you at the last moment, then people will see you are amazing.
  3. Be Self-Sufficient: Live as if you are not in union with the Father and the Spirit, and all this power will be yours.

Jesus was determined to be self-giving, ordinary and human, and dependent upon the Father and the Spirit as a human. In weakness, humanity, and dependency He defeated the Evil one, who said: “If you are the Son of God . . .” He lived out of His true identity.

Have you ever been tempted to be some one you are not?

Are you Still Resting Upon Your Performance or Christ’s?

Thomas BostonThis Antinomian principle that it is needless for a man perfectly justified by faith to endeavor to keep the law and do good works, is a glaring evidence that legality is so engrained in man’s corrupt nature that until a man truly comes to Christ by faith, the legal disposition will still be reigning in him. Let him calm himself into what shape or be of what principles he will in religion [the Gospel], though he run into Antinomianism, he will carry along with him his legal spirit which will always be a slavish and unholy spirit.

Tim Keller, Building Your Identity

“Sin is building your identity—finding your greatest meaning, significance and security—on something besides God. Everyone centers his or her life on something, and whatever that is becomes by definition and function: a) your “god”—something you adore and serve with your whole heart, and b) your “savior”—something you have to have in order to feel spiritually and emotionally significant and meaningful. So even the seemingly most nonreligious people are living lives of worship, working for their “salvation” though not expressing it so to themselves.”

Removing Idols of Heart (a wonderful sermon Tim Keller gave and can be found @ http://www.gospelinlife.com or in his fantastic book Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and The Only Hope that Matters)

 

A Christian Martyr Considers his Identity Before his Death

“Who Am I?”  by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As thought it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

Embracing Your Gender in Three Ways

You are a man, or you are a woman. Femininity or masculinity is irrevocably given into our being so that nobody can ever obliterate gender or be correct in claiming, “I am first a person and then female or male.” Our soul has only existed with vitality and potentiality according to the gender God intended for us. I am a man, and not a woman. God spoke very intentionally according to the original Hebrew in Genesis 1:26-28: “Let us make man in our image, male (zakar) and female (neqebah).”

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Both genders share a direct correlation between their gender’s glory and gender’s curse. God is not the Author of evil. It is because of Satan’s lie and Adam’s sin (Eve’s too) that people are ruined. It is because God is the giver of all good gifts that we are endowed with glory, that the glory remains, and that His curse is gracious in a mysterious way. Why is the curse directed at the gender’s glory? God has a redemptive aim. Until we admit we are licked, that our autonomous strategies cannot overcome the curse and get us back to Eden, we will never cry out for a Redeemer to save us and transform us into His glorious image again. Dr. Larry Crabb explains:

“God’s judgments on both the man and the woman were neither rude nor uncaring. God’s intent was to discourage Adam and Eve (and their descendants) from thinking that their lives could ever work without him and to help them realize that the full realization of joy awaits a new heaven and earth. He wanted to hedge them in, to surface a despair that would drive them back to himself.” Larry Crabb, Men & Women: Enjoying the Difference, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991), 150–158.

In one sense, both are true about every Christian. For example, I am a glorious man and a fallen man. In the words of C.S. Lewis in Prince Caspian: “You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve, and that’s both honor enough to lift up the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth.” Since I am a Christian, however, I am also a redeemed man. Each new creation in Christ is all three; namely, a redeemed glorious-ruin (Lewis’ terminology).

This picture was recently taken of our grandchildren, grandsons and granddaughters – Male and female from the womb. They are glorious ruins, and we ask God for Him to pour out His Spirit upon them and to apply the redemption Jesus accomplished on the cross (Isaiah 44:3-5).

Embracing your true identity according to gender, then, requires an understanding of all three aspects of glory, fall, and redemption.

Kenneth D. Boa: We Do Not Discover our Identities in Isolation

 

Kenneth D. Boa nuances Christian identity in the context of spiritual formation and spiritual disciplines. Boa believes that there is a growing trend of since the 1800s in Christian theology, which emphasizes “an experiential approach to the spiritual life that is based on the believer’s new identity in Christ” (Kindle Locations 140-141). I wonder what you think about this? Perhaps it is because Western culture has had its foundations shaken (psalm 11:3), causing fundamental and philosophical questions to the public square.

Boa’s Conformed to His Image adds another component to the conversation on identity in Christ; namely, that true Christian identity requires a strong sense of belonging to the local church and the Church universal. Boa asserts: “Corporate Identity and Purpose We do not discover our identities in isolation; we are connected through a common story. In a context of relationships, first with God and then with others, our purpose and identity are defined. This communal identity flows from the realization that we are alive not for ourselves but for the Lord and one another. We have become “a people for God’s own possession” so that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2: 9) on two axes: to the ends of the earth and to the end of this age” (Kindle Locations 8183-8187).

Do you believe that radical individualism has skewed the way we think about our identity in Christ?

Boa, Kenneth D. Conformed to His image: biblical and practical approaches to spiritual formation (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan) ePub Edition June 2009; ISBN: 0-310-86146-2

Mark Driscoll on Identity in Christ and Spiritual Warfare

Mark Driscoll has contributed to the conversation on Christian identity by preaching and writing from the book of Ephesians. It is so clear that Christian discipleship and formation in the early church emphasized one’s identity. Ephesians is helpful in this regard. Driscoll and I share a similar conviction. He begins this book by saying, “I believe that correctly knowing one’s true identity is the one thing that changes everything” (p.2).

Although his diagnosis of just why Christians embrace a false identity is not isolated in one chapter, Driscoll writes at one point: “This propensity to find our identity in others is commonly referred to as giving in to peer pressure, people pleasing, codependency, and having a fear of man” (p.10).

Of all the authors on Christian authors, very few address the demonic as well as he does later in the book. Driscoll offers some very practical advice: “If you struggle with believing Satan’s lies, get a journal, write a line down the middle of the pages, and write, ‘Lies’ at the top of one column and ‘Truth’ in the other column. Every time you hear a lie, write it down in the ‘Lies’ column, and next to it, in the ‘Truth’ column, record a refuting truth from Scripture. As you do, you are engaging in spiritual warfare” (p. 222). Then the author provides a form of prayer:

“Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge that this [name the specific area of sin] may be empowered by demons and evil spirits. If it is, I want nothing to do with them. I confess that you triumphed over these demons and evil spirits by the power of your shed blood that purchased forgiveness for all my sins and by your death, burial, and resurrection that provided my new life in Christ. I ask that you send any demons and evil spirits away from me. Demon, in the name and authority of Jesus, I command you to get away from me now. Lord Jesus, I thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Please fill me anew with your Holy Spirit so I will be empowered to live in obedience to you and in freedom from sin and harassment” (p.222).

ISBN 978-1-4002-0386-4 (eBook)
Driscoll, Mark (2013-01-07). Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ (p. vi). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Who Am I in Christ? A Review of Jerry Bridges

IMG_2605On a recent trip to Medellin, Colombia to teach at a seminary, I read one of my favorite authors, Jerry Bridges of the Navigators. He struck me as very humble and thoughtful when I had lunch with him at Glenn Eyre, Colorado. In 2012 Cruciform Press published his book, Who Am I in Christ? Identity in Christ. The book is organized in the form of answers or declarations about the Christians identity. Who are you in Christ? The Christian, according to the author, is a creature before being united in Christ. Then, she is justified, adopted, made a new creation, anointed a saint, ordained a servant, and not yet perfect. Bridges uses scripture to answer this vital question, and helps readers see the dangers of autonomy:

“Our tendency, however, is to look within ourselves to try to find some reason to feel good about ourselves, and this, of course, misses the point entirely. We are performance-oriented by nature, that is, by our sinful nature. To use a British term, we don’t want to be “on the dole”— to be a charity case before God. We want to “pay our own way” to self-respect based on what we accomplish” (Kindle Locations 1165-1168).

Reading this kind of paragraph reminded me that I do not have to base my sense of well-being on my performance or resume. Rather I am free in Christ to simply be myself. Have you ever been tempted in a new situation to try to prove you’re somebody?

Ruth Meyers on Identity

 

This is a helpful eBook with 40 short chapters, which seek to answer the vital question about who you are in Christ. Myers is particularly helpful in diagnosing why we feel dreadful without a solid sense of being. Myers writes:

“Why do we feel like this? Because we’re basing our self-image on (1) Satan’s lies, (2) our own past experience, and (3) our feelings—instead of on the solid, glorious, scriptural facts of who God is, what He has accomplished, and who we are in Him”  (Kindle Locations 128-130).

Myers, Ruth (2010-06-24). Christlife: Embracing Your True and Deepest Identity The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.