home > Pastor’s Desk > 2017 > June 2nd > Defining Identity

defined-identity

Things happen in life which help refine us into fine people again – refining. After all, we each need refining from time to time. Our bad attitudes such as bitterness, ungratefulness, unforgiveness, and slothfulness all becomes dross which cloud our lives and makes us less able to reflect God’s glory. The refining of metals in a furnace, especially silver and gold, helps to remove their impurities. The more silver is refined, for example, the more it becomes reflective. This is the picture that Malachi paints in Malachi 3:3 where God is the Refiner and His people are the silver.

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.
Malachi 3:3

 These refining moments – where the Refiner uses tragedy, success, and criticism (among other things) to refine His children, help to form our identity. Our identity hosts our character which is who we really are, especially under pressure. When our Father’s refining runs its course, it makes us finer. The dictionary defines ‘fine’ as-

fine, adj.  of very high quality; very good of its kind : this was a fine piece of film-making | fine wines • worthy of or eliciting admiration :  a fine musician •  good; satisfactory :  relations in the group were fine.

When we are finer we are less angry, more patient, more caring, more resilient, more focussed and more diligent in our responsibilities towards others. Each of these things could be identified as one of the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

Our identity is “who we are”. For the believer who is being refined by the Father, their identity increasingly becomes: a child of God, a joint heir with Christ, an adopted son or daughter of the Father, an ambassador of Christ, a new creation. Life’s refining moments shape us for the better. But sadly, sometimes a child of God does not recognise this. Rather than the Father’s refining leading them to behold Christ in worship in the midst of their refining (2Cor. 3:18), they look somewhere else.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18

 

victim-victor

I have met people who are not who they should be. They have been hurt. Some have been unjustly hurt – severely. This is sad. But it’s even sadder when it’s a believer who chooses to identify more with their hurt than the effect of beholding the glory of the Lord in Christ (2Cor. 3:18). I have also met people who have been horribly abused who have been refined into beautifully Christ-like believers. This kind of hurt takes years to refine from their identity. Initially, it dominated their lives and became their identity. They withdrew. They grieved. They hid. They even tried to ignore it. They took measures to protect themselves with excess food or pills or alcohol. When people asked how they were they would say little or say everything. But then they felt the Spirit’s gentle wooing.

¶ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
First Peter 5:6-7

In response to the Spirit’s invitation to hand over their hurt and pain (1Peter 5:6-7) they cry out to God in prayer, “Father, please heal my heart!” The Father answers their prayer by summoning them into His presence. They respond how any believer who comes into the presence of God does: they worship. And thus their identity (who they really are) is redefined to that of a worshiper. It is only when a hurt believer redefines their identity as a worshiper that they can begin to be healed. It is only from the posture of worship (surrender to God) that a believer can be truly refined.

No matter what’ve been through, the Father can heal you and put you in His witness-relocation program by relocating you from being a victim who identifies with their hurt to being a victor who identifies with the glory of the Lord in Christ, the Ultimate Victor – who knows a thing or two about being hurt and abused.

Amen.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.