Discovering Who You Are
Sorting through multiple identities...
Okay we talk a lot about identity, and there is good reason for that… Knowing ones identity is well, sometimes hard. Think back to when you were a little kid and your identity was totally wrapped up in your family. Your parents were the known factor in your life. People did not really know you, they knew your family and that is how they gave you identity. For a few years that was cool. But as you got older you started to fight, fight for your independence, and you fought for your identity. You know longer just wanted to be known as your parents child, you wanted to be known for you and who you were become. This is the way it is, we need to be known for who we are. This is the start of multiple identities, we are known for who we are by the family we are apart of and we are known for who we want people to know us for. Think about it family friends know you as one person and school friends know you as someone else. We try new things and we seek to be accepted, when we try something new we either find approval or disapproval. If we find approval then we will do it again and aging and it becomes part of our identity. But is it who we really are? As time goes by and we get older, we keep trying new things and we keep forming new parts to our identity depending on the group that we are with. Before long we have many identities and many different groups that we run with. This is the way that it is for many of us. This is how we form us and over time it gets difficult to know who we really are. This is not how it was supposed to be. We are all given an identity, but we must look to the source to truly find out who we are. Take a look at this verse. 1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are. If we go to the source, we find that we are to be children of God, we are to look to God to find out who we are. Identity is a source issue where we go to get identity determines what our identity will be. We need to seek out the best possible source for our identity. We have to know who God says we are. It is a maze out there and the only way we will find our way through it is by getting the best possible direction that we could ever get. Each day we choose who we will be, step by step minute by minute we all have multiple identities, and we need to live in the identity that comes from the best possible source, we need to live out or identity as children of God.
Who you are...
Who are you? This is a question we have asked and asked so many times in XGT. There is a good reason why we continually ask you to think about this question. If you know who you are if you really know who you are, life will be what it is supposed to be. You see we spend so much time looking and searching out who we are and what we are supposed to be. That is okay because well you are in your teen years and we should start to hammer down who we are and what we are going to be in life. We are writing our story and refining who we are. But the problem is this where are we looking and searching to find these answers. If I asked you to find me gold would you look for it in a silver mine? If I asked you to pick me a fresh apple off of the tree, would you go to an orange tree? Know you would go to the right place to find the item that you were in search of. So why is it not that way when we seek out who we are? Why is it not that way when we look for what our story is supposed to be? I can tell you this much, the world and the controlling forces of the world do not want you to know who you really are. They want you to stay confused and lost. Why? If you really learned who you are and what you are capable of then you will become a powerful force against evil. So instead of doing battle with you it is easier to just keep you confused and scared. You don’t really know who you are yet if you are not fighting evil and winning! Simply put that is most of us. We are looking to discover who we are and we are looking in all the wrong places…
Where is the right place to look? Of course God, I mean He created you and set you apart!
He is the designer of your story. But you are free to write it any way you want, but He longs for you to write it with Him so it will be everything that He hopes for you. He hopes big things for you. Check out Romans 8:15-16 to learn who you are. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. There you have it you are a child of God and God is your ultimate Father! No place better than to go to your supreme father to find out who you are and what you were made for! Dig in and stop being only a shadow of who you were made to be.
What is your story
Okay so we look around and we see life happing all around us. Everyone we see has a life and well when we compare sometimes we start thinking that life is better than mine. My life is better than that. We judge and we consider what can make our life better. We all want the best possible life that we can have. We all want to see things happen for us that makes life better. But the question is this better than what? What are we judging our lives against? We can always find someone who has a life that appears better than ours, and the whole time they might be looking at our life thinking that we have the better life. So what is our story? What are we doing to write the story of our lives?
If we are going to write a life story that is worth telling then we have to know one very import an thing. We have to know our IDENTITY. We have to know who we are and what makes us, us. To write a story of life we have to know who we are, and why we are here and what we are to do while we are here. Identity is a thing that we all have to process, and it can be confusing, because the whole world is trying to tell us who we are and what we are supposed to be. The world tells us how to dress, and what to watch, and what to listen to. The world and the culture that drives the world well it wants to control us and direct us. All of us have been a victim to this. No one is completely free of being influenced. What we have to consider is what is influencing us and why do we allow it influence us. There is a great verse in the bible that I really dig, because it captures my life and has helped me write the best story for my life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says this: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. That is the story of my life for the most part and I am writing the new part of my life. Do you have an old life? Do you have a new life? Does a new life sound exciting? I hope so because there is so much out there for each of us and we have to move into the new part of our life and discover our interest and our passions. When we move into the new part of our life things change and the story of our life begins to write itself. I leave you with this thought and question. When was the last time you could not sleep because you were so excited about tomorrow? The story we are to write is supposed to be that exciting!… Let’s start writing those stories…
“Life moves pretty fast and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you might miss something.” Life does move fast and it seems like it just keeps moving faster and faster. When things are moving so fast it seems like we really don’t have time to think about the decisions that we need to make. When that happens well we can make decisions that might not be the best one that we could make.
Then Whoops, we might regret something that we did or said. I know I have say so many things that well after I said them I regretted it a whole bunch. Lets not get into things that I have done. Cause well that is a long story. I think it is safe to say that all of us have done or said things that we latter regretted. For me there was a time in my life where my regrets well they slowed me down. I looked to my past and well I did not like what I saw. It kind of changed the way I saw things for my future. How may of you wanted to play sick and skip a day of school because of something that happened the day before. We have all been there but does it have to be this way or can we find a way to live without regrets? Well unless you are perfect chances are you will live with some regrets. Not to mention their are regrets that we want to hide away from because of what we did or said and then there are the regrets because of something we did not do or did not say. Those regrets can sometime be worse than regrets that we are embarrassed of. So what are we to do? How will we move forward and make it through another day? Well try this on, and tell me what you think. Philippians 3:13 -14 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Okay so we are to keep moving forward and not look behind. That is a good peace of advice for sure. But just how does that work. I mean some of my biggest regrets involved someone else, someone that I hurt. My other big regrets well they were missed opportunities when I did not do something that I should have done. I did not step out in faith and take the risk, the moment has come and gone. If this is you and I think we all feel these feelings at times well be encouraged because this whole Extreme Faith Mag is focused on this dilemma… (So keep reading) To continue reading go the the Extreme Faith Magazine Download page for the full edition of this weeks Extreme Faith Magazine.
Searching for Wisdom
Last week we started talking about decisions, and how we make them. We all have decisions to make. Will we go this way or that way, will our faith grow or stay the same. Decisions are the markers in life that cause us to continue to move. When you don’t make a decisions when life calls you to make a decision, well you just stall out and you don’t move. All the while life is still moving around you. So how do you make decisions and how do you make the right decisions in life. For that you need a well to pull wisdom from. When you have a well to pull from, you have a place of wisdom to help guide you in the decision making process. When life calls us to make a decision, we can sometimes make a decision too fast and then wish we decide something else. Have you ever done that? Made a decision so fast that you really did not even take time to think about it. Then when you have to live with the choices that you made you wish you chose something else. We have all done that but did we learn from it? See when we learn from our bad decisions we realize that we need wisdom on our side. Wisdom will never fail you, it is the place we should all make our decisions from. So do you have a well of wisdom? Do you have a place you can go to so that your decisions will be good ones? In the Bible there are many verses about wisdom. God really likes us to be wise in all that we do. He longs for us to be the best decision makers around. He really loves it when we use His wisdom to help us make decisions. He likes it so much He gives wisdom away for free! Yes Free! Think about it if I sent out a text to everyone in XGT and stated in the text that the first one to make it to the church would win a free I Pad. How fast would you try to get to the church? An I Pad is cool and great, but it is not as powerful as wisdom. God gives wisdom away for free. Check out this verse James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. That is awesome it is free, and when you think that it is not free to you because of the decisions that you have made in the past, God covers that and says it will be given generously to all without find fault. God will give wisdom to everyone, no judging involved. So do you have a well? Do you cry out for wisdom to make decisions? Make it a point to believe in James 1:5 and seek out God wisdom for decisions.
How do you choose?
We all have decisions to make and choices to choose from. With all the options that are out there how do you decide what to do about anything. Many times culture and our friends sway us to think this way or that way, and we have to decide is that a good thing? It depends on the culture and the friend that is influencing you. How do we decide what is right and what is wrong for us? How do you know that you decide something because it is what you would decide verse other influences helping you to make the decision that you thought was your own? That is a lot to wrap your mind around. Everywhere you look there are things that are seeking to influence you. You can’t get away from it if you are going to live in the world with the rest of us. So what has to happen is you must decide what is the best influence that you should allow into your life?
How you make decisions defines you, and your character. When you make decisions you say a lot about who you are and how you process the world around you. As an individual if you can make decisions for yourself and from the core of your beliefs then you are living a live based on you and not on the current trends of the world. If you are a follower of Jesus then your decisions should look like the decisions that Jesus would make. It is still you but you tend to think in the terms of Jesus you react like Jesus. He is the influence in your life. He is the one you seek to please at the end of the day. Now this is on the radical side of things because many people claim to be followers of Jesus but do not allow Him to fully influence the decisions that they make in life. If you are on the extreme side then you live out of the deep belief that God longs to guide you in the decisions that you make. Check out Proverbs 19:2121 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. What this verse is saying is this. We all have ideas and plans for our lives, but they never stand and last if they are not in line with God’s plan and purpose for our lives. God’s purpose and plan is the best. Have you ever thought about what your dream car is? Think about it if you could have any car out there what would you get! Now lets say you got that car, but for some reason you traded it for a Yugo.
See the picture above and to the right. When we do what we want without seeking out Gods help in our decisions in the end we trade our dream car for a Yugo. God wants the best for us, so we must follow Him in our decisions. His way is the Best!
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How has prayer shaped you?
We love to ask the question, who are you? We know that’s a difficult question to answer. But it is a very important question. When you know who you are then you know what is shaping you! Tonight we are focusing on prayer and how it shapes you. If your life is shaped by prayer than you are on your way to knowing who you are and who you were made to be! Prayer is one of the greatest things we have the privilege to participate in. We all can talk to God! We all have the ability to impact the world and our surroundings with prayer. When you pray you are being shaped and you are also seeing the world around you shaped. When you pray you are standing in front of your God, and He hears you and He loves you.
Have you ever seen direct answers to your prayers? When we see our prayers answered we are shaped and changed. Our faith increases and grows in us. Yes there are times when we don’t see our prayers answered in the way that we wanted them to be answered we may fell like our prayer was not answered at all. But believe me your prayer was heard and answered. You were shaped because of that experience. Our prayer life is so important, it shapes us from the inside out. What do we receive because we pray? We receive and learn God’s will for our life. It allows God to have an avenue into our herts. It grows our relationship with Him. It grows us and increases our faith. Check out this verse, it lets us see how God wants us to respond to life. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Wow how in the world are we able to do that? Prayer, when we pray and go before God with everything we are given hope that He is with us in everything that we face. If he is with us what in the world would we every be afraid of. What trouble would we ever have that we can’t face! If we were to live this way then we could say that prayer is shaping us and growing us in awesome ways. I really like this verse because it does not give us any room to wiggle. There is no either or we are just to follow this verse and live this way! We are to follow this despite how we feel or what emotions are leading us to do. We are to be shaped by this verse and our prayers are to be continuous. Think how your life would be different if you lived by this verse? Just give a thought and keep reading…
How Does God Impact Your Life?
What really impresses you? What makes you go wow that is awesome! For me well if you know me that would be my wife, my kids and technology. I am wowed at the things that I can do and create with technology, and I am just so in love with each of the members of my family that at times it overwhelms me. But what about you? What impresses you and makes you go Wow! I started to think about the wow factor in my life after I read tonight’s unfinished sentence. I had to ask myself if God wow’s me and sends me over the top because I know Him personally or have I become so accustomed to His being in my life. I mean He is God and all things flow through Him. Does that wow me? The fact that I have a personal relationship with the creator of all things does that wow me? It’s tough because I know that when I think about it I know that I am wowed, and impacted. The problem is I just don’t think about it enough. Why I would have to say that I lack in making a connection with Him and my everyday life. My family is so real to me and they are in my life every minute and well technology is how I achieve almost all of the things that I do. That at times if I am not careful these things can become more real to me than the fact that I have a personal relationship with God. So lets think about it, and lets look to see what God’s word has to say about it. Check out this verse: John 1:12
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. This is a wow verse to me because it tells me that I have a right to be called a son of God. That is an impacting verse in so many ways because it really changes who I am and what I am about. I am a son of the most high God. The only God that there ever was and ever will be. This gets me thinking, when I look around at the things that wow me I should know that God is a big wow in my life because being His son should develop and change my identity. It should shape the way I am and who I am becoming each day. When I think about something having the power to shape me and change me I must admit that is a wow for me! What about you what wows you and what make you think about God and causes you to be wowed by Him? Give it some thought take a look at the verse again and know that you are a son or daughter of the most high God!
How you handle it
Life it just happens around us and sometimes we are involved in the decisions that are going on around us, other times life just happens to us. So how do you handle the stress of life? What do you do when everything just falls apart? It happens to all of us, we think that we have everything under control and then blame everything falls apart. Now don’t get me wrong we all know those people who well are in panic mode all the time because life just never ever is in a good place. Then there are the other people who well never ever seem to lose control of life. Everything is always just fine and perfect! (Of course they are just really good at covering up the fact that life gets out of control for them.) Then in the middle of this is us we have a grip on life and things are going good and then other times life seems to fall apart. That is where most of us are at! So how do you handle life when things just fall out of control? What do you turn to so that you feel better and in control agin? There are stresses in life that is part of life but how you handle the stress is key. Some of us just hide and run away, others get angry and take it out on others, and some of us jump in and seek to take control back. God has many things to say about stress. He knew that we would face many things and that we would need His guidance and help to get through life. Take a look at this Philippians 4:6-9 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. That is a lot to take in so read it a couple of times. In this edition of the Extreme Faith Mag. we are going to break it down and make it something that you can use to manage stress and life. Life it happens and well we need to be ready for whatever it throws at us. Did you read it again? If not read it again it is life changing when you allow it to soak in. Keep reading the articles and learn about life and how to manage it.
What Are You Learning?
Okay so everyday the time to wake up comes and the time to walk out the door arrives. It is the start of the new day. So what will you do, and what will you learn? We are capable of learning so much in a single day. Our minds are powerful and strong. But how much do you learn on any given day? Yes I know you go to school each day during the school year, but do you really learn? Or do you just, well remember what you need to so that you will do well on a test? Life is happening all around us it happens everyday. We encounter new things and we have the opportunity to learn new things. But how much do we really learn? What does life teach us? The choice is up to you it is your decision each day that you wake up and each day that you breath. You can learn new things that will help you get through life, or you can just go through the motions. Going through the motions is where a lot of us live, day by day doing whatever we need to do to get through the day. But there is more, when you think of where you want to end up in life, most of us would say a good place a comfortable place. Nothing wrong with that but that in the end would turn out to be a boring life and I don’t think you want to live a boring life! So what do you need? How will your life become more than just the normal life? For that you need wisdom! Check this out Proverbs 19:20 says this Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. For many of us taking advice and receiving instruction is one of the hardest things for us to do. This is where wisdom and new knowledge begins. Each day as we do life we have the chance to learn and grow in wisdom and in that we can develop skills that will allow our lives to impact others. When our lives impact others then we are living a life that creates impact and change in the world around us. This is an awesome way to live, it gives our life substance and purpose. We have to realize that each day we need to grow and to learn new things. We have to work at it and stay focused on how we want to live life. So what have you learned today? What will you learn tomorrow? How will you take what you learned and apply it to change the world around you for the better? These questions can help you as you develop a passion to make your life a life that will impact and change the world around you! Be ready to learn! Be ready to change! Then be ready for a life impacts!
Cover Articles from Extreme Faith Magazine
Written and Posted by The XGT Experience Team of leaders