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What Happens When a Person Choses to Believe Christ? (a partial list answer)

9 Nov
You call it religion, I call it a relationship.

You call it religion, I call it a relationship.

Ever wonder what happens when a person choses to believe Christ? When a person choses to believe and accept that Jesus died to reconcile them to God. For this post, I will be using 2 Corinthians 5 as a starting point for some of the many things that happen or begin to happen the instant one choses to believe personally in Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. The only way to gain new life.

2Corinthians 5:17+18 in the ESV says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

First, the entire direction of one’s life changes. We were facing death and separation. We were setting (settling really) for what we believed to be the best purpose for our life, yet it was prioritized according to our limited human perspective. The direction of our life, did not consider what was best for us in the larger view of eternity.

Second, Once one choses Christ, we have not only a new direction in life but a new life purpose. Now, through prayer we have full access to God’s wisdom and direction. Now, we are free to seek God’s purpose for our personal lives. Now, our purposes become God-motivated and God-driven. Now, seeking God’s purpose for our lives is one reason to learn and study His Word the Bible. Now, we grow and put down roots and become disciples of Christ.

I don’t know about you, but knowing my life has a deeper meaning, an eternal purpose, gives me a hope beyond all the earthly hope I could muster up within my own limited human perspective. The NEW hope we gain as a gift of God is far beyond the scope of this earthly life. It is eternal. Our lives are now to be lived within an eternal perspective and purpose.

Third, another change is that we now have a new desire to leave behind the things in our lives that hold us down, pull us back, and tempt or cause us to revel in sinful things. We have a new desire to please God and to obey His Word. Jesus tells us in John that those who are His disciples show their love by obeying His commandments. The NEW self, is not interested in old things.

Yes, we are still human, so yes we fail. But when we do, 1 John 1:9 promises us that when we become aware that we have sinned again, we confess (agree with God), He is faithful and just to forgive us ALL our sins. Not just the ones we are aware of, not just the sins and failings of commission but also the failings of omission. And yes, even the sins of which we are unaware. One thing to remember is that as we make this spiritual journey and seek God, in our relationship of love toward God and His love toward us, we are intended to grow more and more like Christ and therefore overtime will fail and fall into sin less and less.

Personally, I have found that for me what has changed is how I fail God, and how I see it. For me, it’s been rather like cleaning house. I clean the living room first because that’s what visitors would see. Then I clean the kitchen because that is where much of family life revolves and is seen. Then I clean the bedrooms because relationships are grown there. Then I clean the bathrooms. Yep, it’s the dirty spots I don’t relish and don’t really want someone to see, but the cleaning must be often and thorough or both I and those I love can become ill. Lastly, I clean the closets. My point is this: There are the parts of our lives we don’t show to others. The thoughts we think, the inner life of quiet rebellion and sin. The places of ugliness where we can have dark thoughts of envy, jealousy, rivalry and gossip. When I picture God walking through the thoughts of my mind like rooms in a house, including my thought “closet”, I quickly realize I am far from perfect and need to confess my shortcomings. But I am grateful to God that I am not who I used to be. God has and continues to change me.

When we chose to believe in Christ and become Christ followers – disciples – sometimes we will need to change where we hangout, sometimes we will need to change friends. Sometimes we will need to change our language and learn to use of our tongue to lift up others rather than tear down. Sometimes jokes and filthy language must change.

This may sound hard and when we look at this idea through our “old non-spiritual” eyes – our “natural” way of looking at things – we are constrained. We cannot see God-empowered possibilities. Our old self finds it hard to believe it is truly possible to walk away from things that displease God, to walk away from evil. YET – in fact with the new life in us, the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, changing these things IS possible. Yes, requires discipline and love – but will not be as hard as satan wants us to think it is.

One thing I can say, from both my personal point of view and from things friends have shared with me over the years, is that God will chose an area of your life and ASK you to change. God will ask us in obedience to choose to change even if we don’t understand. Said another way, God asks us to abandon bad habits and failings in our past life and embrace the promises of God and all the potential of our NEW life in Christ. Few are courageous enough to take God at His word and fully believe the promises God offers His children.

Fourth, once saved from the penalty of death and sin (Rom 5:1+2), we begin instead to look more and more — at all of life — through NEW spiritual eyes. We find that our desires change and the desire to do the things that God wants of us will grow stronger and stronger in us and we will truly want to make changes.

Fifth, As we embrace more and more of our new life, we set down roots into our new life by joining into friendships with those who are like-minded to our NEW life. Find a place where learning in community is possible. In a larger group of believers, a place where one can worship God. Give God glory, receive from God and God’s Word. Learn from others that are further along on their spiritual journey. Find a place where you feel you can belong and become. Belong as you are now, where you are now. And hopefully in the same place, a place where you can become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ.

Sixth, As we dig deeper into the Bible, the Word of God, as we seek to become a disciple, God strengthens and enables us to be able to change as He asks. For more information on how to do this read the Book of John in the New Testament. Seek help from a Christian pastor or someone else that you know is a believer in Jesus Christ.

Another great place to begin is in a newer translation of the Bible, read Romans 12. Study it section by section. Find a Christian friend to study it with you. Find a local church sponsored Bible Study group or a church small group to learn and study more about God. Find resources on the internet; for example: check out “Living on the Edge” from Chip Ingram and his study on Romans 12. Start reading and studying how God wants us to live up to our faith in God. How to live up to a higher calling on our lives. Read from those strong in the faith who went before us. Read A.W. Tozer on Desiring God. Read Christian blogs, biographies, study guides, but most of all – READ THE BIBLE. It is a “Believer’s Instructions Before Leaving Earth”.

I have discovered in my own personal journey and believe, that God does not call us to be “Lone Ranger” Christians. Even as Jesus chose and sent out His disciples, He sent them out two by two. We are stronger and better enabled to follow Christ as we help one another.

Seventh, one may find that inwardly, there is a deep desire (an almost overwhelming desire) to share the joy and good news of Jesus Christ with others. That is entirely normal. Often we want our old friends to make the same decision to follow Christ that we have made. I will offer only 1 caution: while you want to share the best thing that has ever happened to you, be prepared for others to reject what you want to share. Your old friends may instead want you to give up Christ, and return to the old you. So I will offer you want was recommended to me. Never speak to your friend about Christ, until you have spoken to Christ about your friend. According to James, if we need wisdom, we are to ask God and He will help us. I take that to mean when we’re not sure how to do something that we believe God wants us to do – such as share our decision and new life with old friends — ask God and He will help us know what to do.

In closing, I just want to encourage anyone reading this to ask questions in the comments section. If you have also believed in Jesus as your Savior and can offer helpful suggestions and add items to the list of what we gain when we believe, add a comment. If you need help finding resources to help you grow, leave a comment. I probably can’t answer all questions, but hopefully, with God’s help, there will be ways we can support one another.

As always your comments and feedback are welcome.  It is my prayer that this blog is helpful to those that read it.

Prayer 4 – PRAYER another method

16 Apr

It is Wednesday of Holy Week for most Western Christians, prayer during this week is common. I would like to encourage you again to increase your prayer by considering another acrostic method for prayer.   Psalms5_3 It is the very word PRAYER itself.  What could be easier?

P – Praise God, be thankful for all the blessings in our lives, even praise God for the trials and circumstances that can be tough in our lives.  Think of all God has done to reconcile us to Him. So much grace and mercy simply cannot be ignored.

R – Repent and be made whole again. This is telling God about our mess-ups, short-falls of omission (not doing what we should have) and errors made – sins of commission (doing what we should not have done)

A – Adore God, When  love. Plain and simple. Do you love God? He loves you. He loves me.  He is love, so he cannot love anyone.  His love is so complete, He died to give us each a future and a hope; to give us a path of reconciliation to God the Father.

Y – Your needs. We all have personal requests we pray for or want to pray for. Often, but not always,  they are related to the very same items we repented and confessed above. Keep us from temptation, help me to be more faithful, loving, kind, gentle, humble, wise, frugal, bring me healing. I urge you to examine your motives again. (If the reason for these requests — i.e. bring me a winning lotto ticket — is greed, go ahead and pray it, but be willing to hear God say, no, not this week).

E – Everyone else’s needs. We all have people in our circle of life. Some are people we would prefer be in another circle. Jesus commanded we pray for those people. Some are people we like, or have heard of their needs via a prayer chain, or posting request, or email, or conversation where one’s ear picked up a need. Some requests will most certainly be for those we love here on earth. Sometimes the needs of others are unspoken to us, but if we ask the Holy Spirit, how can I pray for my child, my husband today – What do they need? God will answer.

R – Rejoice in the coming answers, and recognize God hears and loves to hear from you. Ask in faith, and thank God for the answers – even if you do not yet see them in fruition. As of now, I have only known God to answer 3 ways. Yes, No, Wait in the hallway until the door opens. Personally, I prefer either of the first two over the Wait. But God has His plan, and our best interest at heart *always*. I would love to hear from you. I am a lover of prayer and spending time with my Lord. If you find these PRAYER blogs helpful let me know. If you have a specific PRAYER question, let me know.

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Prayer 3 – A.C.T.S.

13 Apr
How do we learn to pray?  Get close to our Source

How do we learn to pray? Get close to our Source

Have you ever wondered where to start if you are unfamiliar with prayer? One way is to use a standard prayer-book, or a compendium of historical prayers. Another method is to use scripture and pray a Bible verse or two. Some people like praying with a pattern to help them stay on track. I’ve used a few of these forms in the past, and sometimes still do. One is called A.C.T.S. The acronym stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. It contains all the topical elements of the Prayer Jesus taught his disciples. (BTW, I have no idea who first came up with this idea.) Adoration is the noun version of the verb Adore. I think for the purposes of prayer, though the acronym was taught to me as Adoration, I think of it as the verb form.  Actively speaking my love and worship to God my divine creator. For me it is showing God my reverence. It is knowing my position as the Beloved humbly in front of the Great I AM God.  I am in a heavenly throne room, and want to recognize God and His position.  His “otherness”. Confession is next. To me it is a logical transition.  This is the part that makes all of us uncomfortable. It means that we acknowledge and own our wrong doings, our sins, and then confess them each to God — agree with him that we have sinned — and turn away from those actions and thoughts. For me this is part of “wiping my slate clean” with God by telling Him all my mistakes and mess-ups. BONUS:   We have the joy of knowing scripture 1 John 1:9 promises us that when we confess the sins we know of, and ask God humbly to reveal any of which we are unaware, then ALL our sins are covered – even the ones we don’t know about – and therefore cannot confess.   God is so gracious to us and so incrediably merciful. He gives us what we do NOT deserve and does NOT give us what we do deserve.  Grace and Mercy is where confession becomes powerful to call us back into God’s love.  He never leaves us, but in reality, each one honestly looking at ourselves – we know we leave Him.  He is ever faithful and loving, we are not. Next is Thanksgiving. Have an attitude of gratitude. Think of and really tell God about people and things you are happy are in your life.  Thank God for anything that give you joy or peace:  People you love, People you need to love, Enemies who teach us love, Blessings of home, job, family, nature’s wonders, beauty. Appreciate the blessings God has given you and thank Him for these. This section can be very long if you practice gratitude on a daily basis. This is an ideal place to thank God for all that He IS to you personally, as well as for all He has done for and with and to you.  It can be short if you are new to the concept of gratitude and thanksgiving for the daily blessings of all that God provides.  That’s ok.  Just do what you can. After adoring worship and confession, and thanksgiving,  it is the ideal time to tell God what concerns you and to make your supplications for intervention on your behalf or on behalf of others. Tell God the situation, be specific, and ask God for what you need.   God already knows our heart, so you may as well put all your cards on the table.  He knows your prayers before words form on your tongue, and yet, scripture commands us to pray.  To humbly kneel before the throne of our God and King and make our requests. Scripture also tells us to pray in alignment with the Spirit, and it cautions us that sometimes we do not have because we ask with impure motives. (Refer to Lent Reflection2014)  So before you give God your list of “wants”, as if He is just a Santa in the Sky, consider with due reverence what your motives are for making the requests. Is it a need, a want, an intercession on behalf of another, or yourself (which by the way – is perfectly fine). THINK – Is it true, is it honest, is it needful, is it helpful, is it kind?  There is no space for pretense in such an intimate relationship as we have with God in prayer.  Prayers are answered. Most people may close by asking “in the name of Jesus Christ” or something of that sort.  Do you know why?   Not as a habit I hope, but sincerely obeying the commands found in the gospels that Jesus tells his disciples to petition God in His (Jesus’) name. Again an act of humility before a mighty God in acknowledging the ONLY reason we can come to Him with our requests is because Jesus’ death and resurrection made a bridge whereby we can do so. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on A.C.T.S. Have you ever tried this method? Are you willing to give it a try out even for a few days?  Let me know. If you have other methods, please feel free to share.  I would be encouraged by your feedback, and if you like this reflection, be sure to share it with others.  

PRAYER 2

25 Mar
     Prayer is relationship driven.  If you love someone don’t you want to speak with them regularly?  You want to learn as much about them as you can do.  You want to know what gives them joy.  Do you?   I do.  Knowing God is critical to my relationship with Him.  Both in my speaking to God through prayer and in listening for His reply, (most often through reading and studying His Word, the Bible), and also through fellowship within a body of like fellow believers in Christ.
     Continuing the series on prayer, I want to share with you one of my favorite Bible prayers.  It is found in the book of Ephesians, one of my favorite books.  It is written by the apostle Paul.  To give a very brief synopsis of Ephesians, the first 3 chapters tell us who we are in Christ.  If you ever struggle with your self-image, studying this book is a great place to start to see yourself as God sees you.  The last 3 chapters tells us, now that we are in Christ, how we want to live to show off God’s glory and keep His reputation spotless.
     The prayer for today’s reflection is one of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians.  I don’t know about you, but I think he was well practiced in prayer.  Scripture does not tell us how Paul learned to pray, but it is clear from his writings, that not only did he know how to pray, he believed in the power of prayer.
     I’m no theologian, but I dare say all of Paul’s letters contain at least one prayer.  I don’t believe he did this as a mere formality of letter writing in his day.  I believe this was done to encourage other believers –  then and now.  I believe it was his enthusiasm and love for Christ that made Paul love to pray.
     In speaking about this passage, the Asbury Commentary says: “Paul hopes that the Ephesians will know God not only as the Father who legally adopted them but also as the Father who loves them. More than legal heirs, they are also children; …. they are members of God’s household”    As such, I believe Paul hopes they will want to know God more intimately.  As such, hopefully WE also want to know God more intimately.
     One reason I love this particular prayer in Ephesians is because reminds me, not only that God cares about my personal and detailed concerns, but with this prayer it brings in an understanding that we need to take seriously the call to pray for the spiritual needs of others.
     This is a big responsibility, particularly when I often feel inadequate about living my own spiritual life with consistency.  (*Tip: Go back and read Eph. chapters 1-3)  I chose to emphasize that it is also an incredible privilege to pray for other’s growth along their spiritual journey.  There are few things more satisfying than seeing spiritual growth in a person you pray for and care about.  This is what Paul asks for the people of Ephesus:

 

*********     Ephesians 1:17-20  (NIV)     ***********

17 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is the same as the mighty strength,20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”

      As I look at this prayer, the first observation is Paul saying:  “I keep asking”.  He perseveres even if he does not hear an immediate answer, he continues to pray for the believers in Ephesians.  News traveled slow, but He did not stop because the need was always present.  It is still a need today.  Are we consistent in praying for the spiritual needs of others?
     Second observation is that Paul recognizes and hallows to whom he is praying.  He first asks God, (as God Almighty), then he further mentions God in Trinitarian context, as the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ (a title I love), and his next mention and first request is that the Holy Spirit would take particular action to benefit the Ephesian believers.
     Third, I notice what action Paul requests.  He specifically asks the Spirit to provide wisdom and revelation to the believers.  Without the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we are unable to know God.  Without the assistance of the Holy Spirit we are unable to understand anything God wants to communicate with us.  It is only through the leading of the Holy Spirit we are even able to want to know God.
     Fourth observation – Paul includes the reasons for the requests within the prayer, “so that” and “in order to”…I love that.  Do we carefully craft our prayers to know what and why we are praying for a need?   Or do we just blurt out something without understanding the reason?  I encourage you to go deeper in prayer as Paul did, and think about the reason for your request.  Why are you asking for God’s assistance in the matter?  Be specific, what is the outcome you are hoping for?  What is the “so that” and the “in order to” for your requests?  In other words, if God grants your prayer, what result would you see?
      The first reason Paul gives is for the people to know God better.  “If Paul’s prayer is answered, God will show himself to the Gentiles in particular and give them insight to understand the divine mystery of grace.” (ibit)

     What a wonderful request each of us can make for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities.  If we, as believers, want to grow, we need to hunger to know God better.  We need to dive deep into God’s grace.  Go all in.  When I can’t think of any other prayer, I ask God to give me deeper understanding of His grace, and an unending hunger for His word.  What I want most is to know Him better.  I ask the same for my family, my friends, my pastors, and my community.
     Fifth,  I notice in His second sentence Paul moves straight to the heart of the matter.  “Heart” in this passages is considered the very center and core of life.  Prayer is a matter of the heart.  Loving God is a matter of the heart.  Knowing God is a matter of the heart.  Having Hope is a matter of the heart.  So, when Paul asks God to open the eyes of their hearts, that they may be enlightened, Paul is asking the best thing he can think of for his friends in Ephesus.  Again, Paul tells us why:  “in order” that you (the Ephesians) may know the hope to which God has called you (the Ephesians).
     Today, is it just as important to know the hope to which God has called us.  Knowing Whom our hope is, in Whom our hope is placed, knowing to Whom we belong, is a matter of the heart.  It is in our heart that we experience God’s light and life.  Through His Holy Spirit dwelling in us, that enlightenment comes from God.
     Sixth, Knowing hope and knowing our calling from God is absolutely essential in living a Christian life.  As I reflect upon this, I realize knowing the hope of our inheritance is part of a deepening appreciation of God’s plan for our lives as we journey with Him.  I also think of the many times in my journey past, when I did not have a clear vision of what God called me to do, nor why he called me.  Now days, I always come back to the same answer,  He called me because He loves me.
     God loves all His children.  He offers reconciliation to all His children, but not all people are willing.  We have free choice.  God is a gentleman and will never force himself upon us.  We and we alone are responsible for our choices and the consequences of those choices.  Let me say this a different way – I don’t want to offend anyone – but man are you missing out if you pass up God’s offer of reconciliation in Jesus Christ.
     Seventh observation, Here in the prayer for the Ephesians, Paul expands not only are we called of God, but Paul’s desire is that they realize the extent of the riches to be found in His glorious inheritance in His holy people.  Wow.  Can we ever wrap our head around that concept?  Can we ever exhaust God’s glorious riches?  Can we even take in that He is our inheritance and we are part of His?  Us?  Really?   Doesn’t that just blow your mind?  It does mine.  It calls me further into prayer, it calls me deeper, it calls me to ask the Spirit to again further enlighten my heart so I may know God better, and to be holy, even as God is holy.
      Eighth:  This prayer calls me to realize that I can’t be holy,  without God’s provision and power.  Paul continues with the request for the enlightened heart to understand God’s incomparably great power for the Ephesians who believe.  (Some translations say “toward us that believe”.)   Then he explains in vs 20, that the same power, is what God used when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him (Christ) at His (the Father’s) right hand in the heavenly realms.
     Now I admit, I’m not a theological scholar, but it certainly seems to me that Paul is saying we have access through prayer, to the same power of God used when Christ was raised from the dead.  That is incredible power.  Simply by praying.  Again Wow.  There is no need for us to fail when we have such power available to help us along our spiritual journey.
Think on this, reflect on exactly what Paul is asking God.  Said another way, God is for us.  The surprassing greatness of God’s power is toward us who believe.  Again, Wow.
     When I’m discouraged or wondering what to pray, I know I can count on the Holy Spirit to intercede for us because the Bible says so, (Rom 8:26-27) yet I also know that when I can’t think of how to pray or what to pray for myself or others, I often turn to a prayer such as this one which shows me a practical way to prioritize prayer needs.  It is another model prayer,  one way to pray for others on their spiritual journey.  To me, that is one of the greatest privileges of all.  To intercede on behalf of others.  To ask God to work in their life.  And it is rare that I can think of something better to pray than that the eyes of someone’s heart be opened to all that God has in store for them:  All the Good, all the richness of God, all  the power to in faith ask and believe.  Have expectant hope, the knowledge of a sure thing God has promised for us.
     So I ask you, when you can’t think how to pray, where do you start?
Please let me know your thoughts about prayer and about this prayer and this reflection in particular.
*******       For further reflection or diving deeper study try looking up these verses and
                     consider what they have to say in relation to the prayer above…..                              ***********
Surrounding context:  Start at Ephesians (Eph.) 1: 15-16
     Also see
Eph. 1:3, 1:7+8, 1:11+12, Eph. 3:14-20, Eph. 4:4+5
John 14:16+17; 23-26, John 20:17
Acts 2:24, 7:2, 9:13, 26:14-18
Rom. 1:8+9, Rom 15:6, Rom. 11:29
I Cor. 2:5-10, 14:6
2 Cor. 4:6+7
Heb. 6:4
Phil. 3:21
Col. 1:9-14, 1:29

Prayer Part1

12 Mar

This was originally drafted in May 2013 – Interrupted and forgot to post. Too funny, but OK. Means, it was meant for now. So I will update before posting. For most of last year (2013), I used a different form of study than in prior years. I try to pick a format for Bible study early in the year and follow that same format for most of the year. In 2013, I most of my study was topical. Most days, my Bible study revolved around prayer. This included reading multiple books on prayer, as well as experimenting using different forms of prayer. It meant also working to clarify my prayers, my prayer motives, and taking my prayer life into different forms. I needed to includes more Bible study, prior to praying through my prayer lists of needs. I needed to let God speak to me through His Word, the Bible, before I felt I could speak to Him. I needed to place the needs of others, before my own. Yet, I felt that laying my heart bare to God was critical to a vibrant prayer life. For me, prayer is getting to know God more intimately in a wider array of being.  Prayer for me is not just a habit. It is not a “discipline”, something I *have* to do. It is not merely like breathing out and breathing in – a necessity for life. It is a way of life. Prayer is so ingrained in my being that I cannot live without it. I think prayer is “addicting” in a good way; because as you see prayers answered, you want to pray more and more. You see God working in your life and in the life of others, and in situations in our world, and you want to take Him all that concerns you. A sensitivity to the needs of others increases. Vision for the world grows, and includes big needs as well as small personal needs. Prayer is an unbelievable privilege. The Bible tells us that we enter into the very presence of God. Wow. This continues to blow me away. To think that the God of the universe invites me to bring Him my cares and concerns of daily living. Words fail to express my heart. Watch for more blogs on Prayer in the future. Let me know if this is something useful to you. Let me know if you would like to learn more about prayer. How to do it, different forms, resources,etc. Example: Thank_You_Prayer

Lent Reflection 2014

12 Mar

Lent this year for me is a call to self-examination and reevaluation of my relationship with God. Today I tried the DIVE method (Jenifer Jernigan – Define, Investigate, Visualize, Embrace – From “Diving Deeper Ministries”)

Proverbs 11:3 NASB says “He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his way will be found out.” Or NIV says “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” ESV says it like this: “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” ERV: “Good people are guided by their honesty, but crooks who lie and cheat will ruin themselves.”
Cross Ref: Proverbs 10:9, Psalm 15. (only 5 verses) The one word focus – Integrity.

Define:
Complete moral innocence, being real, being sincere, wholeness, authentic, complete unity, soundness – no division, no compartmentalization, no posing, no being a chameleon, no being a people pleaser.

Investigate: Reasons why it is worth it to strive to have integrity: (partial revisit & adaptation from my notes of an old Chip Ingram podcast)
1. Relationship with God is impossible without it. I cannot have a relationship with God until I am honest with Him. There is no conning God. He will meet me right where I am – warts, discouragement & all. (X-Ref – Ps 145:18, I John 1:9, Hebrews 7:25) Do not pose to be more ___ than I am. When I sin, I want to immediately confess and restore relationship with God. God accepts the humble in heart – He loves those who know we can’t do life on our own.
2. Not possible to have healthy relationship within yourself. I’ve been working on this one for a while. (Ps. 51, Ps 139) Taking a turn away from what I know is right brings me pain. Even when the thought is “no one knows – fact is *I* know. It is not hidden; there is no conning God. I’ve heard it said that dishonesty with self is the core cause of self-hatred, lack of peace, denial, & strife within one’s self. Peer into avoidance behaviors: noise, food, company, distractions, restlessness, inability to “Be still”. Internal turmoil and dissonance from lacking integrity between the person I want others to think I am versus who I currently am, who I want to be within my true inner self & heart knowledge of who I really am now. Ps. 46: 10, Romans 12: 3-6 – Take an honest self assessment: I’m not perfect, I’m making progress. I am accepted and beloved in Christ. Yes, I’m going to mess up from time to time. More often than I want. But no, I don’t want to live life with that mess on my heart. (refer back to #1) I’m working to align what are untrue thoughts with God’s truth about me. I’ve started a true/false list to help me believe how God sees me. (Good and bad)
3. Impossible to have good relationships with others. I cannot be honest with others until I am honest with God and with myself. It requires humility and a self-image true to God’s image of me. (Ref: Eph 4:15) Relationships that give me the greatest satisfaction are those which are based in honesty and based in speaking the truth in love; both of which lead to trust.

Visualize: On a consistent basis my life and my words need to say the same thing. Not perfectly, but consistently. I give my word and I keep it. I do not hide my faults. I am quick to forgive. I am quick to ask forgiveness. I want to see myself and more importantly, see others, as God sees. No minimizing the positive for me, I want to seek God’s truth. “Integrity is when what you think, what you say, and what you do, how you live are all in alignment.” Source unknown – but that is where I am aiming this lent.

Embrace:
Lord, Move me out of the place of guilt and performance based acceptance and into a place of the truth of your acceptance and love. Lead me into a true self-image in you. Not thinking too highly of myself, or too lowly. Maybe not thinking of myself at all, but of others first. Help me today to be your love in the place you have provided for me today.Don'tBeHardonYourself

Martha L Shaw - Poet, Writer, Artist

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