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My Fortress

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my Savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.” 2 Samuel 22:3

This makes me think of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. It’s where he went to connect with Jor-El, his father, to learn about his homeland and about His identity.

But this verse doesn’t say we have a fortress to learn about our Father and our identity it says God, our Father, is our fortress. In Him we find our identity. In Him we are safe. Something to think on.

PS 2 Samuel 22 relates to Psalm 18.

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No Virginia, God Is Not Like Santa Claus

I overheard a conversation between a parent and a child that went like this:

“That’s enough now. You need to be good or Santa won’t bring you any presents.”

“I’ll be good.”

Not anything earth shattering. Not anything new. I’ve heard this said many times. I’ve been told this many times. I’ve even said this many times myself. But this time when I heard it, it smacked me. It actually made my stomach knot up and I didn’t know why. It was commonly spoken and commonly believed, why did it suddenly upset me?

It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I figured out that that way of thinking prevented me from receiving from God most of my life. I thought God was like Santa. He would only give me things if I were good. He only loved me when I was perfectly well behaved. I didn’t think that God loved me, because I wasn’t perfect. Is this way of thinking preventing you from receiving from God too?

Honestly, there are a lot of people out there who think God is the same way. They believe that God only loves us when we “be good.” He only approves of us when our behavior is within the little box of rules and regulations. We need to be flawless to be loved. We are only given the things we want and need when we are “behaving” and being “good.” But it’s a lie. The truth is that God loves us all the time, unconditionally. The whole Bible illustrates that He loves us and that He gives good gifts to all people. Period.

Here’s some truth about God’s gifts:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.” James 1:17 (NIV)

For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” Romans 11:29 (NLT)

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17 (NIV)

Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (Jesus) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Romans 5:18 (KJV)

What was His best gift? I think it was Grace. The grace that came in the form of a small baby born in Bethlehem approximately 2013 years ago. His name was Jesus. You wanna know why?

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:6-8(NLT)

God gave Jesus (the person of grace) to everyone who will ever be born, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. No matter what family you were born into or what country you were born in. No matter your past, present or future behavior. Whether you are wealthy or poor, brilliant or slow-witted, Jesus was given to you so you could be reconciled to God.

And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s wrath. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” Romans 5:9-11(NLT)

God is not trying to control your behavior, like your parents did with the “no gifts from Santa” hogwash. He wants you to know Him and have a relationship with Him. From that you learn how much He loves you! You also discover who He made you to be and are set free from the lies people have spoken over you. The change in behavior comes as a side-effect from knowing who you are and how much you are loved. You are righteous and holy because Jesus is righteous holy, not because of what you do or don’t do. This is the reason He sent Jesus. This is the reason for the celebration of Christmas.

No Virginia, God is not like Santa Claus.

Waste of Life

After yesterday’s rant about identity and waiting for the best, I have to share this link a friend posted. It’s about how girls get told “wait” and how frustrating that is when you get into your late 20s and into your 30s. Click Here for the link..

I agree with what she says about living our lives and not sitting and waiting for a spouse to complete us. I hit that point she’s talking about a long while ago. I would like a husband, but I’m not going to put my life on hold until I get one. I think that’s a waste of life.

I have friends who are living full out like me, but I also know some guys and gals who are crying and pleading with God for a spouse. It’s their sole focus. They think it will fix everything. I disagree. Having a relationship, same as having money, doesn’t create instant happiness. Is it nice to have? Yes. But is it a cure all? No.

If you are miserable single, you’ll be miserable in a relationship.

If you are full of joy single, you’ll be full of joy in a relationship.

If you are bitter single, you’ll be bitter in a relationship.

If you live each day to the fullest single, you’ll enjoy each day to the fullest in a relationship.

If you live solely on your emotions when you’re single, you’ll do the same in your relationship.

I think that the problem for a lot of women (and men too) is that we weren’t taught about who we are in God. We are given a template and expected to fit into that template. And God is sitting there wondering where the leaders got the template, because it was NOT from Him.

Not everyone is going to meet their spouse in high school or college. Not everyone will be married by 22 and having their first baby by 25. There are a lot of people who aren’t even ready to be in a relationship or get married in their 20s. Everyone has a calling, but not everyone is called to be a pastor or to marry a pastor.

God created a good plan for us, but it isn’t necessarily like the plans of those around us. If you really want to live out God’s will (which simply means His heart’s desire and wish for your life) then you need to realize that you are NOT your sister, brother, cousin, friend, pastor, parent or anyone else. You are YOU. And God loves YOU. He knit YOU together in your mother’s womb. (Psalm 139) He made YOU unique. That means that He also made your plan to uniquely fit YOU.

One of the most freeing things I’ve experienced was to realize that I wasn’t ever going to be like my sisters or my friends, I could only be me. While I was really mad about it at the time, it freed me. I like that I’m kind of a weirdo. I like that I need alone time to recharge. I like that I scrapbook my stamp collection. I like that my bathroom is the BRIGHTEST yellow you’ve ever seen. (My mom actually laughed about the color of my bathroom this past weekend). I like that I have an insanely vivid imagination. I like that I love Superman and honestly want to marry Clark Kent. I like that I watch Disney princess, musicals, Star Wars, and Jane Austen movies. I love that I talk to God all day long and dance around my house when I worship Him. I like that I drink chocolate milk from the container. I like that I have Doris Day on my iPod. I like that I am 7 on the inside, look 25 on the outside and am actually 38. I like that I mix my cake and ice cream together at birthday parties. I like who I am. I’m still working on the full on loving the way I look, but I’m speaking kindly to myself now. So I consider that to be progress.

I was a wreck at 21. I was under construction at 25, 30 and even now at 38. I have improved and I am not who I was then. I have allowed God to heal me. I’ve allowed God’s word to transform my thinking. I’ve allowed Him to love me and call me His beloved Jillian. I never believed He could love me before, so this is new. And I like it! I love that God has been patient with me, because I am a very slow changer. I like change, but I change sloooow. I receive the word immediately, but the implementation… well… it’s like Michigan road construction slow.

I said all that to say that I’m very grateful that God knew better than to send me my husband before I was ready. I appreciate that He and I dealt with the issues so I didn’t end up with a mess of a marriage or end up divorced. I’m grateful that He not only gave me a promise to hold on to, but He showed me why waiting for that promise was worth it. He showed me why it’s worth it even while I’m still waiting. He’s cool that God!

We have the right to choose to marry anyone who wants to marry us. God gives us that choice. I could have been married before now, but I chose to wait. For me, the only choice is to wait for a mature man of God who fits perfectly into the relationship I have with God. I will not marry anyone who distracts me from God. My heart’s desire is for a man who will cover me and pray for me to have an even better relationship with God and likes the little weirdo I am. If that means I wait 10 more years (on top of the 10 years that have already passed since I’ve gotten my promise that I will be married), then I will enjoy my life right where I am for those 10 years.

You ARE going to wait my friends. But it is your choice what you do with the time you are waiting. So you can choose to focus on finding a spouse and waste valuable life time. Or you can choose to enjoy the time.

So why not use this time that you have to cultivate a relationship with God? Why not use the time to develop your talents and deal with your issues? Why not enjoy every day? Trust me when I say, life is wayyyy more fun when you’re focused on God. God’s a blast people. Seriously.

Note to God: You and I both know I’m ready, so please don’t make me wait 10 more years. But if You need those years, that’s okay too. I love You either way.

Identity Rant

As a teen and young adult I got really tired of the church telling me to do something with the “because I said so” and the “be good” reasoning. I still battle that desire to live inside the rule box.

I’m going to rant now- How about telling me the whole truth? The truth is that God actually set up marriage as a covering and a protection for women. Instead of trying to scare me with STDs and pregnancy! How about teaching me who I am in God? How about making me confident to know that I am worth marrying? How about telling me that any guy who would sleep with me outside of that covenant doesn’t actually respect me at all, no matter what he says? How about teaching guys HOW to respect women? How about teaching them how to be real men instead of guys, punks and dudes? How about teaching them who they are in God too?

Rant over. Rational blog to follow in 3, 2, 1….

There is a rampant identity crisis in this world. I’m not the only one who struggled with identity. And honestly, I don’t blame my parents or the churches I went to for my lack of identity. It’s not their fault, because they did not know what they were doing. They did their best with what they had and they loved me the best way they knew how. I had some very wonderful people in my world, truly. And I’m grateful.

But the fact remains that the world at large lies to kids. They do one of three things: The world scares the crap out of them and scars them for life, traps them in a ruled filled box, or tells them to do whatever they want. Not one of those things are actually Biblical, my friends!

Moses spent a lot of time telling the Children of Israel the importance of passing on what they learned about God and from God to their children. But they didn’t do it. So after Joshua died, the children of Israel went through a crazy cycle (Read Judges) of doing whatever they wanted, then crying out to God. God would send a deliverer, and then they’d stick with God for a generation. Then they’d start the cycle all over again.

Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Training up doesn’t must mean to tell them do this and don’t do that! It means we need to show them how to make good decisions and why it matters. Most importantly though, we NEED to know who we are in God and we NEED to teach the next generation who they are in God. It is ESSENTIAL that they know because how you see yourself colors every decision you make (and the ones we don’t). Your identity feeds your perspective.

Before I really understood how much God adored me, I was willing to take what I could get. I coasted along living on crumbs. I don’t do that anymore, because I am the daughter of the Most High God. He has a good plan for me and I expect Him to do good things for me. I expect that when I screw up that He will it around for my good. Because that’s who He is and what He does! He’s a good God who restores and reconciles and regenerates and resurrects! And He is absolutely in love with us! With me! With you!

Here’s an intro to your identity in Christ:

Ladies, you are the representation of the beauty of God. You are the daughter of the most high. Zephaniah 3 says that God sings over you with joy. On the cross, you were the joy set before Jesus that made all that suffering WORTH IT! You are adored! So don’t settle for anything less than full respect and love.

Gentlemen, you are the representation of the warrior side of God. Sorry to tell you but having sex does not make you a man. Sorry. But it doesn’t. What makes you a man is you being responsible and respectful. Genesis 1 tells you that you are made in the image and likeness of God. You were created first to be a leader, a guardian and protector. It also means you have the power to create and sow good things! That’s who you were made to be. Don’t settle for being an immature boy or a guy who plays around, be a man.

This Is Me

Musical Monday’s song of the day is “This Is Me” as sung by the lovely and talented Demi Lovato in Disney’s Camp Rock. Take a listen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwdr_pWBigw

The reason I love this song is because it’s about someone realizing who she really is. I think everyone can relate to that. As I’ve gone through my healing process with God, He’s been showing me who I really am. Who He made me to be. Not what people spoke over me. Not what I tried to be based on what everyone thought of me. But me. The child of the Most High God. The one He created with purpose before the foundation of the world.

A man much wiser than me once told me, “Jilly, it’s not about what you do. It’s not about your “ministry.” It’s about being who God made you to be. When you finally embrace and become who He made you to be, everything will flow naturally from that.”

At the time I was like WHAT the heck does that mean? Now I get it. Until I saw myself from God’s perspective. Until I allowed God to heal me and restore me. Until I let go of what people have said to me and told me and called me and believed about me. Until I can fully embrace who I was created to be, the real me, I will not be able fully receive what God has for me.

Knowing who you are is essential. Knowing whose you are is essential.

Do you know that YOU are the Beloved of God? Not just loved, but beloved. Adored.

Do you know that God calls you good? Everything He created He calls good. He knows your potential, what you are capable of, and your strengths. He also knows your weaknesses and what things you’ll need Him to do for you. And He loves you even when you screw up and fall down and make a huge mess. His love never wavers or changes. Jeremiah 31:1, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”

You may be thinking, but you don’t know what I’ve done. You’re right there. But most of you don’t know what I’ve done either. And since God loves me, I know He loves you too. He’s not a respecter of persons. What He’ll do for one, He’ll do for all.

You may be thinking that you are a mistake or that you weren’t wanted. Maybe you have a parent that deserted you. Maybe you were the product of a bad relationship, a rape, a one-night stand. Maybe you were given up for adoption. Maybe you were the product of an affair. Maybe you’ve been rejected or abandoned by those who should have loved and protected you. To all of you I want to tell you what God told me:

“I can turn around any situation. Resurrection and restoration are My specialties. I bring life out of death. I bring good from bad. You are the good that I worked out of your parent’s bad relationship. I saw their decisions. Both the wise and unwise decisions. You may have been a surprise to them. But you were not a surprise to me. I knew you before I created the world. I knew what your parents would choose. And you, you my precious daughter, are the good I created from that bad situation. You are the life I brought from death.”

This revelation. This message. Changed. Everything. It rocked me to my core. I always thought I was a mistake that should not have been born. Since I was a mistake God’s promises for a good plan and purpose didn’t apply to me. I truly believed that I had to take what was left.  Scraps.  That there was no good plan for me because I was not meant to be.  That’s truly what I thought. Those thoughts were LIES from an enemy who hates me.  Not from the God who loves me.  God said, that He planned me before the foundation of the world! I was planned and chosen and known before God even created land on the planet Earth! I matter to God.

And guess what? So were you and so do you! You are made in His image and you matter to Him. Who you are is beautiful! Who you are is unique! So why would you want to be anything other than who He created you to be?

This is truth. Receive it. Believe it. Accept it. Speak it.