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I'm sure many of you are familiar with the psychological term 'Identity Crisis'.  It is a term that refers to an internal conflict or search for identity. Most seem to experience this during their adolescent years as they are seeking a clearer sense of self and an understanding of their role in society. 
 
And, just as we search for a sense of self in society, there are so many, that genuinely love God, fear Him, and want to please Him. But yet, they are constantly struggling as they seek to have a clear sense of who they are in Christ. 
 
They are experiencing, what I would call, a Spiritual Identity Crisis.  They're distressed and frustrated because they simply want to know who they are. 
 
Questions like, "Who am I?" "What am I called to do?"  "What is my purpose?, bombard their thoughts constantly. 
 
When I was looking at the term 'identity crisis' in my studies, I saw that, as I stated earlier , it typically happens during adolescence before one matures and becomes an adult. 
And for those who may be experiencing a spiritual identity crisis, you must know that it is because God is seeking to bring you to a place of maturity. A place that you are consistently walking in what He has purposed for your life. 

Purpose demands that you know who you are. 
 
God says to us in Hosea 4:6 "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."  Not knowing who you are and your purpose can cause you to be ineffective. 
 
In order to overcome spiritual identity crisis, you have to understand positioning. You must understand where you are spiritually positioned.
 
"Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral  and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh  and  new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP)

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised  us  up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-6 NKJ)
 
You have been literally placed and established in Christ.  Seated in heavenly places with Him. Once you have accepted Him as your savior, you then become one with Him. You become a new creation. All of the old has passed away. You've passed from death to life. You must grasp that truth. You are a new creation. And, the only one that can tell you every little detail about the wonderful new creation that you are, is the Creator Himself.

"For I know the thoughts  and  plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts  and  plans for welfare  and  peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome." (Jeremiah 29:11 AMP)

And Col 3:3 tells us, "For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:3 AMP)

Your new, real life is hidden with Christ. After you said yes to Him, the old you died. In order to find out who you are in Christ, you have to seek Him. Your new life is hidden in Him.
 
This is how you find your new identity.  This is how you find out who you are. By seeking Him.
 
One mistake that has taken place in the Body of Christ as a whole is that when a new believer comes in, we try to put them in our little religious boxes. 
 
We tell them, "You gotta' dress this way." "You gotta' pray this way." 
 
What does this do for that person? It stifles their individuality. And the wonderful expression of God through that person is hindered. Then they begin to try live up to and conform to everyone else's expectations. The goal then becomes fitting in. 
 
Please know that the only place you need to fit in, is in Christ.
 
"As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord,[so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him." (Colossians 2:6 AMP)



What God has placed in you is needed and valuable. But if all of that creativity and uniqueness is hidden behind the expectations of people and the fear of man, the world will never experience the beautiful unique expression of God's heart as He desires to release through you.
 
Be free to be yourself. God wants to express Himself through you. 
 
Don't be frustrated anymore. Just seek God.  Ask Him to help you overcome the fear and expectations of man. You will not struggle with your identity anymore.  Things from your past will no longer define you.
 
Some of you have allowed things from your past to define you.   Be encouraged by these words- You are not your past!
 
Those things are broken and destroyed. Walk in confidence and boldness as He speaks and shows you who you are. 
 
 



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About the Author :

Pastor Pamela Bell is a passionate, lover of God, who desires to see God's people walk in the knowledge of who they are in Christ. She resides in Mobile, AL and serves as an Elder at her church, Gulf Coast Christian Center. Pastor Pamela enjoys reading, spending time with friends and all things chocolate.

Dear friend,

In Isaiah 61, we read that Jesus is able to give “beauty for ashes”. I love this statement. Ashes are what are left behind when something has been burned up completely. Ashes are left when there is nothing left to burn, when nothing remains. Such represent a loss of all hope, a loss of any chance of life. However, out of this nothingness, our Lord promises to create something glorious! Take note of the word “beauty”. We do not read that God will make something okay, alright or merely acceptable. On the contrary, He will make something beautiful, exquisite, magnificent. He will make something that will be admired, esteemed, appreciated, highly valued. Dear friend, do you feel that your life is nothing more than an ash heap? Know that when you give your ashes to Jesus, He gives you beauty in return. Today, give you life to Him. He will save you, restore you, rebuild you. Out of the ashes you will rise, a child of the Most High God! This simple truth Mavis Fazi experienced first-hand at our MDANTSANE Gospel Crusade. Be encouraged by her testimony below.

Upon receiving a flyer advertising the upcoming Gospel Crusade, Mavis’ curiosity was aroused. Somehow, this 58-year-old grandmother of four felt as though this was the place she needed to be to receive deliverance from the frustrations that had been plaguing her for so long. Having struggled with back pains for decades, she felt hopeless and helpless. “This issue has been troubling me since 1989. I could not do anything for myself and this left me feeling so discouraged. During the healing prayer I felt a sudden relief. I saw a vision of a man in white lifting me up. Now, I am healed! I feel transformed, I am hopeful again!” Mavis also accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. What a life-changing night it was for her, running into the arms of her new-found Saviour!


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About the Author :

Tamryn Klintworth is the founder of In His Name Ministries an evangelistic organization devoted to winning Africa and the world for Jesus, through the holding of mass crusades. She resides in Cape Town, South Africa.


“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” – Proverbs 31 v 25
Clothe: “to endow with a particular quality”
Endow: “to bestow”

This is a nice-sounding verse; almost poetic. While it is nice to read and easy to quote, this verse contains a lot of importance, especially about the character of a Christian woman. As explained in the definitions above, to be clothed in something, one needs to be endowed with that particular thing. In this case, those things are strength and dignity. 

The strength being referred to here is not physical, but rather, it is an indication of one’s strength of character. The whole scripture about the virtuous woman is based on the condition of her heart and character, but more importantly, it highlights the Source of all of these qualities displayed. Proverbs 31 is not that popular amongst all women, and reading it on the surface, I can understand why. It almost paints a picture of sheer perfection; an impossible goal for any woman to reach. How could anyone in their right mind ever achieve all of this? The answer, dear sister, is very plain. 

Proverbs 31 does not paint a picture of perfection for no reason. Every word has been strategically placed and is completely God-breathed. Am I saying that God wants us to feel incompetent and unworthy? By all means, no! He simply wants us to realize that we cannot achieve the kind of strength of character that pleases Him on our own – we need His help, of course; we need His Spirit! The Lord sets an impossible standard because without Him is just that – impossible. 

To be endowed with something, one needs to be completely soaked on the inside to be able to display it on the outside. When we come to Jesus, he bestows upon us His beauty and loveliness, soaking us in His glorious light. His Word transforms our hearts and renews our mind until He has completely taken over on the inside and the out, making it possible to display godly strength of character. “Strength” and “dignity” are listed separately; almost as if the two have nothing to do with each other, when actually, they point to exactly the same thing: character. Another word for dignity is “honour”, which God graciously gives us when we accept His salvation – it is an automatic part of the package. 

We can be called virtuous because we have been redeemed by the Most High God. He has replaced our ashes with His unfading and ever-increasing beauty. He has replaced our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. We can “laugh without fear of the future” because we undoubtedly know Whose we are and what spectacular future lies ahead for us here on earth as well as eternity. We are safe and secure in the arms of our Saviour, now and forever more.

So, dear virtuous woman, rest in the fact that Jesus has clothed you with strength of character, which He has given you to stand out in this dark world. Today and every day, make a mark for Him. Rest in the fact that regardless of what happens, you are safe in your unfailing Saviour’s embrace. Trust and rely on Him to perfect you – He will surely complete the work He started within you. Laugh without fear of anything, because Jesus had got your back.



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About the Author :

Danelle Vingtas, wife and mother, is the Founder of South African based young women’s ministry, Proverbs 31 Sisterhood. Through her testimony she is determined to show the love of Jesus to the young women of this generation.



Oh, its hard to learn the lesson,
As we pass beneath the rod,
That the sunshine and the shadow
Serve alike the will of God. - Anonymous

Whether we like it or not life is sprinkled with hard times. There is no getting around it. In fact the Bible promises us that we will have hard times.

Jesus is quoted in John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

I recently read a story about Casey Seymour, a successful soccer player and coach. He always has his team run a 10 x 100 drill at the end of practice. Before the men can leave the field they must run at full speed - with minimal rest - 100 yards ten times. If they dont beat a prescribed time they have to do it again. The men hate it until the day of the game. Each game they find that they can play at full capacity for the entire match. Their effort has been rewarded with a championship!

We are all playing the game of life, running the gamut – dodging balls, sidestepping boulders, having to learn offensive and defensive strategies. And one thing remains the same.... the injustices of life – the unfair turnabouts will come, question is how will they affect us? Will life's problems, tragedies and injustices rob us of life, joy and love, or will we utilize those seasons and turn them into strength and endurance training?

During his time as a missionary to the Gentiles, Paul submitted to the instructions and drills of God amid great hardship and suffering. Paul was no stranger to suffering. He endured beatings with whips and rocks; he was lost at sea; he was shipwrecked three times and had to learn to survive; he labored and toiled for a days food; he was transient – never putting down roots; he spent time cold, naked and hungry and was falsely imprisoned.

But Paul set the bar for us. Though he endured these unfair, unjust hardships he never allowed any of them to embitter him. Paul endured and thrived. Is it even possible? Yes! And he showed us how....by keeping our eyes fastened upon the person of Jesus Christ!

You may say “Easy for you to say Dori. You dont know my life. You dont know what I've been through and suffered.” You are right. I do not. But I have experienced a training ground of my own.

While I am no Paul I have a resume of my own – suffering the years' long consequences of someone else's choices (talk about unfair!), losing your home, financial devastation, a marriage re-written by my husband's injuries due to a disabling accident 8 years ago; being homeless, selling your belongings to survive, moving 3 states away from your family because that is where God led you to go; finding my mother dead and enduring a loved one's battle with addiction – all these are but a few of the things I've encountered in the last 8 years including the death of my father.

During this last decade my life was so disassembled. Whether I knew it or not at the time - every thing, person, value and belief was tested and or removed in this refiners fire - especially my faith in and knowledge of Christ. The one thought that ocurred over and over was “how do people survive these tragedies, these storms – without God?”

You see Christ was my anchor in these times. I clung to him. With each new storm my voice grew louder and those storms became HIS proving grounds. I witnessed firsthand the power of his ability and miracles. I chose Christ – to cling to Him and to believe in Him, come what may.

Looking back I know that I had every reason and every right to choose differently. For all I witnessed and for all the details I alone know I could have chosen to hate various individuals especially the man who attacked my husband and to be bitter at the disability system for how it ravaged our lives and my husbands body. I could have allowed my heart to be overwhelmed with the desire to get even. I could have easily worn the clothes of a victim of someone else's bad judgement – the victim of “the powers that be”. Churches, pastors, believers in Christ, have let me down sorely. I could be angry at the mortgage companies that would not help us, heartbroken over the one who broke promises, the list goes on.

What would I have gained if I had blindly taken the well earned “right” to be this way? What would it have profited me in life had I chosen to allow the troubles to win? Yet so many do succumb as they blindly demand their rights to suffer on, which only leaves a swath of debris in lives and hearts that are reminscent of paths of destruction left by tornado's and hurricanes. May I say the choice is ours? We can either allow life's troubles to destroy us, or we can turn our tough seasons into training camps.

The apostle Paul often used metaphors of training and competition in his letters to the church. Using his words we can find important training principles:

Galatians 5:7 says “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?”

Life was good. You were running (living) well. Then trouble happened. Who or what interrupted your life, your stride – to trip you up? No. Go back to what your training (what the word of God tells you to do and apply it.). Guard your heart and your mind against unholy thinking and reaction. Find your stride again.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “let us throw off everything that hinders and every sin that entangles us. And let us run - with perseverance - the race marked out for us.”

In guarding your heart and mind be aware of putting on the coat of “right” --- for it will bleed through your chest to your very heart. Throw off that coat – that “I have a right to feel this way” feeling, for it will only grow in length and weight and hinder your stride, tripping you as you run. Do not agree to become weighed down by things that will hinder your race.

“Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last – but WE do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly. I do not fight like a boxer beating the air; No. I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Recognize that life is a training ground. There is a war being waged for your soul. Our enemy, satan, intends to rob you of your faith in Jesus Christ in an attempt to de-robe Christ and de-stroy the truth of God's power and ability. Satan desires to leave you de-feated and hopeless. Decide and determine to deactivate that power. Land the deathblow.

Here are your training instructions as set forth by Paul –

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up your shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all of the Lord's people.” Ephesians 6:10-15

I challenge you to lace up your running shoes. Let's run.



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About the Author :

Dori Cass is a wife of 29 years and mom to two adult children. She has spent her adult life active in Womens, Children's and Youth ministry. She finds that she writes a lot about faith which are the nuggets mined up out of a decade long journey in the wilderness walking with a husband whose life changed completely when he was injured on the job as a police officer. You can find her blog, Heaven's Confetti.

It was 3:23 am, and I was awake.
Still. Again. 

In a span of five months, I had been laid off, found a new job, moved away, and left a second career field and company that I loved. It’s as if the beautifully scenic train ride of life that I’d been on simply dropped me off in the middle of a new town, and then sped off in a cloud of dust before I’d even had a chance to put both feet on the platform. 

Looking around, this new place looked foreign. Confusing. 

Lonely. 

I prided myself on multitasking like nobody’s business, and I just knew that when I laid down my second job and moved to my new town, that God would start me off on a new plan. I’d step off the last train, and hop onboard the next locomotive, ready and willing to do great things for the Kingdom of Heaven. I’d start a foundation, a new chapter of a pre-teen encouragement mission, or champion a Bible Study for women hungry for Jesus that would awaken an entire town in an earth-shattering domino effect. Something to show the people on the train that I was here for a reason. A divinely appointed purpose. I would do exactly what I’d done before, but in a new zip code. I was prepped and ready at the starting blocks, waiting for the gun to go off for my next race.

Yet here I’d sat, for five months, with not a single taste of what God had in store. Oh, I questioned. I begged. While everyone else was asleep, I was pleading for some little inkling of my next mission. There has to be a mission. Don’t you remember how you made me, Lord? Energetic! Fun! Encouraging! I NEED to multitask! I am ready. I’m willing. I am only juggling three things right now, and Lord you KNOW I can handle at least six! I am a goal warrior, leaving no goal unmet in my path. I am all over this. I NEED A MISSION!

There was no answer that night and I finally went to sleep just before dawn. I knew starting something outside of God’s will would not flourish, so I waited. And waited. The more time passed, the bigger the doubts were that crept in. Surely God still had a purpose for me, right? Surely God wasn’t through with me when I stepped off the train. But the more I sought answers, the fewer I had. When I’d speak up to my friends about my lack of pre-lit next steps on my path, they’d stare at me with a confused look that clearly said “Why are you complaining? YOU made the choice, why are you waiting for the next step? Make your own path!” After all, they knew me. They knew that I was always doing something, always blazing a trail. But I didn’t choose this path, I only made the choice to follow when God asked me to move. This new path was unfamilar. How was I to know where it was leading?

Other friends would ask me, “So what are you doing there?” 

My answer was always the same: “Nothing. I mean, I don’t know yet. But I’m sure God has a plan for something great!” Because He did. Right? As the friend voted “Always doing something,” doing nothing felt wrong. It felt lazy. 

Come on, Lord. Even when the disciples wondered about your plans, they had someone else to talk to that could confirm they’d both heard the same call to drop their fisherman nets and follow you.

I have no one to talk to but YOU.  

Sounds bad, right? Worse yet, when I questioned God’s motives… I mean, asked for wisdom and guidance, I didn’t get an answer. Nothing. The silence this side of heaven is deafening when the only One we can talk to isn’t giving answers to our questions.

It was only when I stopped talking and began listening, stopped trying to force the next move and let go of the reigns completely, and stopped trying to determine WHY I WAS HERE, could I  see that God’s plans did not include train-hopping. They included times of rest and times to seek Him, not just work on His list of things for me to do. I’d assumed that God wanted me to continue with the same work I’d done before, but in a different zip code. In reality, God simply wanted me to stand still, take His hand, and listen. 


“The Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:11-12) 


I was searching for God in the wind, ready to hop on the next train to the next thing. But we’ll never find God if we don’t stand still long enough to listen to His whisper. Is God asking you to do the same? Whether it takes one year or ten, if standing still is the only thing on God’s honey-do list for you, doing anything else, no matter how noble the cause, will not bring you the whisper you crave. 

I’ll admit, when you’re a go-getter, a dreamer, and a goal warrior, standing still is hard. Having faith that standing still IS part of God’s plan is even harder. If you’re in the midst of standing still, wondering what God’s next step is, take heart. Standing still is part of God’s plan too! Psalm 37:7 reminds us to “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” When there’s no one there but the two of you, your simple act of faith to follow Him may be the only task he’ll give you. It is those times when your patience and quiet obedience means more to God than any other offering you could give.







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About the Author :

Karen Sipps is the creator of www.christianbedtimestories.com and the author of More Than Sales: God’s Heart for your Direct Sales Business. She encourages women and girls of all ages to love and embrace themselves exactly the way God created them. She blogs at sheisfreemission.blogspot.com and currently lives with her husband, two kids, cat, and dog in North Mississippi.
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