Whose You Are

It was time to take a step back, reflect, do a little introspection and expand perspective.  Sometimes we don’t recognize it’s time to step back.  The last podcast I attempted to record went nowhere; my sound board died.  Was there more behind this embarrassing incident than I realized?  Yes, but at the time was unaware.  

How do you begin to summarize the cacophony of events that occurred in our country for the past few years?  These events caused me to come to the conclusion that I really don’t know anything.  I have learned to question lessons I’ve been taught from the pulpit, images I’ve viewed on a screen, and words blasted from trusted sources.  Learning to dig and question turned me into a healthy skeptic.  I’ve had to ask my Father’s help in forgetting what I had been taught and letting Him guide me to the truth.  

Honestly, I’ve been grateful that during this time of questioning and learning, God graciously caused my sound board to not work so that I could take some time to remove myself from the equation.  I was taught that we must “die to ourselves”.  Hold on here, hoss, where does the Bible actually say that we are to die to ourselves?  

Luke 9:23-24 says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”  Ok, Jesus, what did you just say?  Let’s look at what it means to deny oneself.  The correct wording should say, “let him deny” or in Greek, aparneomai.  What does that mean when my South Georgia accent can’t even say that?!  Here is a direct quote from the Strong’s concordance: “to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone; to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests.”    Wait a minute…..is this saying that I have to forget myself, forget who I am?  Does this mean I can’t be me?  

Yes and no answers the questions above.  Maybe we should look at ourselves as I’ve learned to look at the book of Revelation.  It’s the already but not yet.  Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you, let’s unravel this with my life as the illustration.   I had become very dogmatic in some of my views.  They weren’t necessarily bad views but I had to look at the end goal.  What was I really trying to accomplish with my views and actions?  Do I like it when I win or my side wins a victory?  You betcha!  However, if my goal is all about my side winning and not about what Jesus wants His disciples to do: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:19-20. What am I as a Christian really accomplishing?

I had to forget everything I had been taught that was causing me to have biases against my fellow man.  Miss Stubborn, Angie, a word for you……”you do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12. In the same way that I had to unlearn what I knew to be true, I had to let go of myself.  There are some things in this world I may never know the truth about this side of heaven.  Yahweh told Adam & Eve in Eden that, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”.Genesis 2:16-17. If we knew everything and had it all figured out, we would have no need to trust our Father.  There is no need for me to be that bossy girl on the playground who knows it all.  Nobody likes that kid.  They run away from her.

When we learn to trust God with our self, we can forget our need to be the one in the know.  To realize you don’t know it all is when you begin to learn. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 Our pride that screams we have to win at any cost can be checked at the door.  We can walk away from petty disagreements that hinder our relationships.  Look, I’m not going to lie, everyone seems to have an identity crisis, but I can tell you this, forget who you think you are and you will find freedom in Christ.  Your mission doesn’t matter.  You will discover whose you are, not who you are.  You may enjoy discovering that you really don’t know anything at all, but as Paul so eloquently stated, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Christ and him crucified”.I Corinthians 2:2

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39


Little children and young adults need affirmation.  I would go so far as to say that adults need affirmation too.  Now before you come out swinging at me saying, “not every kid gets a trophy”.  I agree!  That is not what I am saying.  Let’s just say that your child finishes fourth grade and they persevered through.  They may not have made straight A’s, but they really gave fourth grade all they had that year.  If you respond as a parent by saying, “I’m glad you finished fourth grade, but you can do better next year.”  You are not telling your child what they need to hear.  They just need to hear from you that you are proud and that they did great!  The first response deflates a child’s confidence.  The second response encourages them and they want to do better because they have received positive reinforcement from their parents.  This may sound crazy, but I can remember recently decorating my mailbox for Christmas.  I know this is not a big deal, but for me it is!  I’m not really gifted in crafts and decorating even though I enjoy it.  I am the person who could post a hilarious Pinterest fail.  When I finished decorating my mailbox, I took a picture and sent it to my mom.  I wanted my mom to say, “I love it!  It looks great”!  If you know my mom, that is exactly what she said.  I was ready to tackle the front door next!  I felt like Martha Stewart!  

I did learn early in my parenting career that children need to learn from their mistakes.  This may mean that we don’t say anything.  We just let reality be the teacher. This is where I’ll talk about trophies.  I believe we live in a culture now where parents think every little task their child does needs to be rewarded.  This can be dangerous.  We are setting our children up to think that the real world will reward them.  They will be let down if they have this mindset.  Our culture in the United States is that no one should have to suffer.  However, suffering gives us a choice.  We can choose to be a victim from our suffering or a victor.  Adversity can teach us to dig deep.  When you overcome adversity, you can look back and realize what you had to overcome to get where you are.  It is a wonderful feeling to realize your inner strength, faith, God’s wisdom and guidance helped you rise above your circumstances.  That child who didn’t get the trophy is gonna look at that other team who deserved the recognition and figure out how they can beat them next time.  Teach your children to look fear in the eye.  Embrace adversity because you will grow in your faith, you will come to know Jesus in a intimate way and your character will strengthen.  We can also realize that adversity can be a blessing.  In the Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom talks about their bedding and the barrack they were staying in becoming infested with fleas.  At first, they hated the annoying little creatures that were causing them to have red bumps on their skin and causing them to itch the festers.  However, they learned to praise God for the fleas because it caused their German captors not to come into their barracks.  Our attitudes can determine whether we go through a trial well or with bitterness.  

Affirm your children.  Let them make mistakes.  Guide them and most importantly, love them.  

God wants to change your heart

Have you ever thought about what your calling is?  I’m not talking about your 8-5 job.  I mean have you ever asked God, “what is your calling for me?”  God has been stirring my heart with a calling.  I’m still trying to define it, but getting to this point has been a process.  Now, the process is usually not fun.  That’s because God may show you some things in your heart that aren’t pretty.  God wants to heal your heart though and He is a kind, loving Father who doesn’t condemn.  So we started looking at my heart.  My dad was a mechanic so opening up the hood to see what’s going on so you can diagnose the problem is an analogy that resonates with me.  

The season of Lent falls on the calendar before Easter.  My experience with lent was listening to my sorority sisters say they were giving up chocolate.  So I always thought that lent was a time where you would give up something important to you so you could focus more on Jesus. I really started learning more about the significance of lent when I started studying the Passover.  I know that Jewish people don’t celebrate lent and that Protestants don’t celebrate Passover, but I started understanding the meaning behind both of these events when I learned that it wasn’t about what you give up, it’s about letting God search your heart. “Search me, O God and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”. Psalm 139:23-24. David gives us clarity in this psalm.  Changing a habit is not easy.  Psychologists say that it takes 21 days to change a habit.  A heart change may occur in 21 days, but often it is a process.  Just as making bread from yeast is a process, so is removing sin from our lives.  Yeast has always represented sin in the Bible so the Jewish people are looking for sin in their lives when they celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Breaking free from sin starts when we decide to get honest with God.  David said, search, know, try my heart and my thoughts.    

As I’ve been preparing for my calling, it occurred to me while sharing my desire with a friend that I had a fear of failure on me.  You may look at this and feel sorry for me.  I knew that fear is not from God.  One of the first verses I memorized is II Timothy 1:7 which says, “for God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind”.  I prayed that God would help me overcome this fear, but first of all, He had to show me it’s root.  This is where it gets dirty.  I realized that this fear of failure was coming from wanting affirmation from man, not God.  You see, I could just visualize people saying, “Wow, Angie, you’re really helping people.  You’re doing a great job”.  One day, I felt the Lord speak to my spirit about that issue.  “Angie, let me take that burden off of you.  You can’t help anybody.”  Hmmmm…could a little pride have crept into that fear of failure?  God’s Word says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing”, John 15:6.  Do I want to work in my strength or the strength of the Holy Spirit?  I am willing to be used of God.  He has given me skills, abilities, talents and gifts.  He wants me to fulfill my calling and use the gifts He has given me, but I have to die to self.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t still be me.  It means I get to see the Holy Spirit working through me to help others overcome strongholds that are holding them hostage and preventing them from fulfilling their calling  God has placed on them.  And don’t miss this because it’s MAJOR.  If my motive is operating out of a selfish heart and not out of love, it will be a HUGE failure.  God does use failure.  Could it be His plan that I fail?  You bet.  He will always use it to conform me more to the image of His Son and His glory.  This is a trust issue.  Do I trust God even if I fail?  Try to fulfill a calling without love and the scripture says, “we are a noisy gong or clanging cymbal”.  I Corinthians 13:1. Our motive has to be LOVE!    

God also had to show me my self-righteousness.  I would never have something like self-righteousness in my heart!  I learned that I did.  I realized this sneaky sin was in my heart while studying the Prodigal Son in my small group.  Do you remember the older brother scoffing in the corner when his brother returned?  I wasn’t scoffing at someone else, but I actually thought that I could get God to bless me because of my obedience.  My husband and I went through a difficult financial time for three years.  I remember when we started going through this trial that I said, “But, God we’ve given our tithes and offerings.  We shouldn’t be going through this.”  Listen to the words of the older brother in the prodigal: “Look, these many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat that I might celebrate with my friends,” Luke 15:29.  Sound familiar?  I was saying, “Lord, my good works deserve something.”  Self righteousness is self serving.  Let me tell you something.  I say this with great dignity and respect.  You have areas in your heart that need to be conformed more to the image of Jesus Christ.  If you have to go though some adversity to be made more like His Son, it is worth it.  Be grateful that our good works don’t determine God’s goodness.  We would limit Him. 

God showed me what His Word says about righteousness.  I needed to know the difference between self righteousness and righteousness .“He leads me down paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. The path God leads us down can be scary and dark.  King David had to contend with a giant named Goliath on one of his paths.  David trusted God no matter what when facing this giant.  Could he have failed in the world’s eyes?  Yes.  But, God was leading him down the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.  God had also prepared David ahead of time.  David had killed lions and bears while working as a shepherd (I Samuel 17:34).  God will prepare you ahead of time for the path He chooses for you to go down.  Proverbs 12:28 says, “In the path of righteousness is life and its pathway there is no death.”  Throw away your desire to please man.  Follow God down the path even when you can’t see too far ahead of you.  You can trust God no matter what and you can trust Him with your failures.  I choose God’s righteousness.  My righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  His righteousness is life!    

I may never help one person with my calling.  This calling may really be about God showing me the places in my heart that need healing.  “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart”. Psalm 51:6   Open your inward being and your secret heart to the God who loves you unconditionally.  Cherish spending time with Him.  Ask Him to show you areas in your heart that need to be healed.  I encourage you to sit with Him with your Bible open.  Ask Him to show you a verse that is just for you, then meditate on that scripture.  When we look back on our lives, the most important task we can complete is spending time with Him.  I promise you that the freedom you will experience far outweighs the process.