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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Becoming Me {Believing that I am who God says I am} {part 2} {April HBC Women's Ministry Small Group}


I am completely humbled and thankful to God that He has chosen to use me to start a women's ministry at our church.  So far, it has blessed my socks off.  The process and journey that led up to me saying "yes" to this calling that God has placed on me is nothing short of a miracle.  Some of it is very personal and I'm not quite ready to share all of it with a large audience, but I will share some of it later on in this post.  But right now I want to explain the purpose behind our new women's ministry.

Any time we slap the word "ministry" onto a program or organization,  I think we should be intentional in making sure that it is in fact an actual ministry that is not only geared toward helping people by showing them the love of Christ but that it is also intentional about spreading the gospel. Therefore, when I was in the "drawing board" stage of this ministry, I knew that it needed a mission statement so I met with my two dear friends Wendy and Lanora and the Holy Spirit gave us this as our mission statement:

To equip Godly women through discipleship to fulfill the Great Commission. 

It's such a simple statement but it carries a not-so-simple message. Take a look at Matthew 28:19-20:

"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."

This passage of Jesus' commissioning his disciples, and therefore us, to go out and make more disciples, is not something he suggested that we do....if we are His disciples this is something that we will's part of "take up your cross and follow me" which leads me back to our women's ministry and our goal to carry out our mission statement.  By far, the best example that we have to follow when making disciples is to follow Jesus' example by investing our lives in faithful men and women who will reproduce themselves in others....reproduce Christ followers, who then reproduce Christ followers, etc, etc,.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 says:

"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their efforts."

As a follower of Christ, my goal should be to carry out the Great Commission as an individual but it's not limited to that.  So in efforts to carry out God's commissioning on us to make disciples, 64 women from Hillcrest Baptist Church in Nederland, Texas have joined the women's ministry and have united under a common goal of seeing souls saved and transformed into the likeness of God.  These 64 women have divided up into 11 different small groups that meet at least once a month to fellowship as sister's in Christ but to ultimately equip themselves to make disciples.

My group met for the first time last Tuesday night and our first discussion was on "Believing that I am who God says I am." This is a topic that God has been laying on my heart for the past few months and it has changed my life.  If you read my last blog post Becoming Me {Believing that I am who God says I am} , then you know what I am talking about.  I had no idea when I was working through this with God that he was going to have me use it to lead a small group.  I'm just thankful that He wants to use me at all.

So here it is.  Two hours worth of small group discussion shoved into a blog post:

Believing that I am who God says I am

It's one thing to say "let's carry out the Great Commission" and another to actually go out and do it.  The truth it, we don't feel so equipped do we?  It's hard to go out and make disciples when we don't feel like a disciple, right?

Many of us, myself included, when we were born again, never really advanced beyond that did we?  Remember back for a second.  After your relationship with Jesus began, you were probably fired up weren't you?  Jesus was going to use you to save your whole family, your friends and strangers on the street.  But what happened a few days later? a few weeks later?

Life, right? Busyness? Responsibilities?
Sins began to slip back in....bad habits that you promised God you would never do again.  Insecurities, doubts, discouragement all threatened to put out your flame.
Pretty soon you found yourself back into the bondage of the sins and the burdens that Jesus freed you from.
Sound familiar yet?

Think about this for a minute.....I want you to picture Jesus on the cross.  Now think about the sins that you struggle with...the addictions...the insecurities....the anxiety, etc,. Now picture the crown of thorns on Jesus' head.  I want you to name each of those thorns with the sins you struggle with.  Now picture the nails in his hands.  Name those nails with your sin.  Picture the nails in his feet.   Name those nails.  Picture each red gash on his skin.  Name those gashes.

You see, all the things that we struggle with, everything that keeps us in bondage to the "old us",  Jesus paid the price for.  He unlocked those heavy chains.  Why do we put them back on?

For me, until recently, the chains of insecurity kept me in bondage my whole life.  This is something that I didn't even share with my own husband until a few months ago.   It's something that gripped me at a very early age and followed me into marriage, into motherhood, into the ministry even. I'm sure those who are close to me probably find this surprising because I don't think anyone would ever expect a girl who played every sport, made straight A's and graduated as valedictorian to struggle with insecurity.  But insecurity takes on different forms. Whereas a lot of people who struggle with insecurity become introverts, my insecurity drove me to seek approval in every way possible.  I would push through panic attacks and sleepless nights full of anxiety.  But I put a smile on my face and pushed through because I needed to perform well...I needed the approval.  I never shared these struggles with a single soul.  I was a really good actress.  I had no idea then that "the act" would catch up with me.

A few months after I graduated high school, I met Jordan.  I knew after our first date that I was going to marry him and two years later, I did.  But Jordan didn't just marry me, he married my insecurities and anxiety as well. Though Jordan never expected this, I tried to be "the perfect" wife to gain his approval.  After long days of work and school, I would come home and cook "the perfect" dinner and the house had to be "perfect".  And then I would get upset if all my hard efforts didn't gain me the approval that I was seeking from my husband.  And bless his heart, he loved me anyways. I didn't realize then that I didn't have to earn his love.  He just loved me for me and not for what I did for him.  Thirteen months later, motherhood happened.   My insecurities and anxiety followed me into this as well.  And "mommy guilt" was a whole new level of insecurity that I never felt before.  And when my baby was later diagnosed with autism, the mommy guilt was unbearable.  I just knew that I had done something wrong.  And of course there was the added pressure of being a pastor's wife.  You see, I never wanted to be a pastor's wife.  It was not in my plan.  I did not have the "qualifications" or "the makings" of a pastor's wife.  My husband was suppose to be a major league baseball player.  I was suppose to be living "the good life" in a pent house somewhere.      In my mind, this would have meant that I had "arrived" and that I had finally gotten the reward/approval for all my hard work.  I guess I thought that the anxiety and insecurities would just disappear when I reached this place.  I look back now and I'm thankful that the Lord saved me from my own selfish idolatry.  You see, even in my insecurities, I was arrogant.  I thought that I could somehow work my way to happiness.  I didn't realize my complete dependency on Christ.  I thought that I could rescue myself.

Little did I know that God was going to use the very thing that I didn't want to do to break through my insecurities.  You see, everyone has a breaking point.  My breaking point occurred when I realized that I was hindering my husband's ministry.  At some point between having three kids in five years, moving more times than I care to say, and having a child with autism, I just completely gave up on being a pastor's wife.  I was full of bitterness and all I wanted to do was take care of my husband and kids.  I still attended church and volunteered for a few things every now and then but I had no passion.  I was tired. I was depressed.  I felt insignificant.  I felt like God had made a mistake by making me a pastor's wife.  I felt completely lost.  I knew that something had to give.  I began my relationship with Jesus Christ as a teenager but over a decade-later, I was still living in bondage to my old sins and insecurities. And now I was failing miserably by not meeting my own expectations for myself.   I hit the ground and cried out to God for help.  I'm sure I heard him whisper, "It's about time, my child."

Over the last year, the Lord has been healing me and transforming me.  He has been revealing to me that I am who He says I am.  I'm not who the world thinks that I am.  I don't even care about that anymore.  I only care what God thinks.  I don't need anyone's approval but His and I have his approval because I have been washed by the blood of the Lamb.  He looks at me and sees Jesus. I don't have to earn his love, favor or approval.  I already have it.

I can now say that I absolutely love being a pastor's wife and I no longer question His calling on my life.  I feel significant.  I feel valued.  I feel loved.  I no longer feel the bondage of anxiety and insecurity that was once so crippling.  It has definitely been a process and some days I slip back into my old mind set of insecurity and anxiety.  It's on those days that I have to remind myself who I am:

I am who God says I am.......

I am complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power.  (Colossians 2:10)
I am alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:5)
I am holy and without blame before him.  (Ephesians 1:4 and 1 Peter 1:16)
I am God's workmanship, created in Christ unto good works. (Ephesians 2:10)
I am a new creature in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I am a joint-heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17)
I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me.  (Romans 8:37)
I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony.  (Revelation 12:11)
I am an ambassador for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:21)
I am healed by the stripes of Jesus. (Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24)
I am redeemed from the curse of sin. (Deuteronomy 28:15-68)
I am greatly loved by God. (Romans 1:7)
I am strengthened with all might according to His glorious power. (Colossians 1:11)

You are who God says you are....

....what God says about me is the same thing that he says about you.  Sure, we all have different personalities, different qualities that make each of us unique, different things that we are good at, different things that we struggle with, etc., but when God look at you, he sees Jesus.  All of your sins and shortcomings have been atoned for.  Jesus' blood covers you.

You see, despite our differences, God sees us the same.  If you are a born-again believer, God looks at you and sees Jesus.

Are you starting to see yourself in a different light yet? As a child of God? Alive? Not bound by sin, insecurity, addictions?

God's power in us can break every single chain! 
God is in the business of setting us free, making each of us into the women He always wanted us to be.  

You see, I think we all have areas in which we aren't living in the victory that Jesus earned for us.  These areas of bondage affect how we see ourselves and build walls between us and the people we love.  And that wall separates us from feeling the love of God.  So we search for love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.  The truth is, we can never satisfy our thirst and hunger for love unless we look to Jesus to fill us with His love.  His is the only love that can set us free and make us into the women that He always wanted us to be.  It's a process.  Will you start the process today? Will you believe that you were meant for more? Will you choose to believe that you are who God says you are?

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