3 Words: Disciple, Husband, Father

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

I recently asked this question to a group of my students and had them make a vision board using their three words and cutouts of pictures that demonstrated those words.  It was a fascinating exercise.  Overall, most of their words were positive and encouraging.

But this got me thinking, what three words describe me?

After much consideration, (well not really, these popped into my head pretty quickly,) I came up with:

  • DISCIPLE
  • HUSBAND
  • FATHER

These three words describe me and my stage in life right now.  So let’s take a look at them and see what they mean.

DISCIPLE

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  Mark 8:34-35

For me, this is where my life begins.  I had the blessing to grow up in a Christian home with parents who taught me to love and fear the Lord.  They kept us in church and helped us stay surrounded with godly friends.  I have always pursued Jesus because he pursued me first.  So the word disciple is a perfect description of my life.

I like the verse above because Jesus is completely honest with his disciples, (and by extension you and me.)  He lets us know that to follow him is to deny ourselves.  This means we have to put aside what we want and focus on what He wants for us; things that will further the kingdom.  This isn’t always easy to do, but I have found that the more I focus on God, the less I am concerned with the things of this world.

My desire as a disciple is to be conformed into the image of Christ.  When Jesus died on the cross for my sins, his blood washed me clean.   Now when God looks at me, he doesn’t see me as the sinner that I am, but rather he sees me washed clean.  This amazing transformation is ongoing.  I continue to sin, in spite of myself, and he continues to shape me and mold me more closely to the image of Jesus.  This is what being a disciple is.  However, this is not all that it is.  Being a disciple means I must continually seek to share Jesus with those around me.  It may be through words, it may be through actions, it may be through this blog, but a disciple of Christ sits at his feet and then goes out into the world to share him with others.

Disciple defines every other component of my life.

HUSBAND

The next word that describes me is husband.  I have been married to my bride for almost fourteen years.  She is a perfect fit for me.  I know that God provided her to be my wife and me to be her husband.  It is amazing the way God created us. Where I have a weakness, she has a strength.  When I don’t know the answers, she is there to help me find them.  I always tell people that my wife knows me better than I know myself.

This word defines me because God put us together for a specific reason.  We are made to go together and work out his will for our lives.  I take my responsibilities as a husband seriously.  I know that I am to serve my wife, to give my life up for her if necessary.  This is what the Bible says in Ephesians 5:25-33.  First Peter 3:7 also says that I am to treat my wife with tenderness and consideration so that nothing may hinder my prayers.

I will be a husband until the day that one of us places the other in the arms of Jesus. It is more than a word, it is what I am called to be and a commitment that I have made.

FATHER

The third word that describes me is father.  I am so incredibly blessed to be a Dad.   Every day when I come home, my kids greet me with genuine excitement to see me.  This too is a huge responsibility.  I can remember when my daughter was born my grandfather told me congratulations and then told me that I had created a life for eternity.  Talk about an eye-opening statement!  Now, years later as I try to teach and lead and love my kids, I realize the truth of that statement.  Like many things in life, what I do with my kids while they are young will stick with them for the rest of their lives.  They will hopefully hear my voice in their head as they grow up and make decisions and choose careers and spouses and lives.  I hope that I have followed Proverbs 22:6.  Train up a child in the way he should go,  And when he is old he will not depart from it.  This is my awesome task that God has given me to accomplish.  


I encourage you to take a look at your life and find out what your three words are. Are the positive and what you want them to be?  Are they negative and need changing?  It is up to you to decide, today, what your words are and how they will affect the rest of your life.

Our Identity In Christ, Part II

If I were to ask you who or what you are most proud of being, what would you say? Would it be a successful businessman, an accomplished pianist, a good athlete, a caring nurse, an excellent teacher or a loving daughter?  It could be any of these or something totally different.

For my example, I listed the following as what I am primarily identified as: a Christian, Husband, Father, Son, Grandson, Uncle, Brother, Brother-In-Law, Friend, Employee, Carpenter, Teacher, and Writer.  Most people know me as one or more of these things.

The particular titles on your list are not as important as the order in which they are placed… 

I am a Christian before I am anything else.  It is of utmost importance in that it defines every other aspect of my life.  My relationship with Christ shapes me daily into the kind of man that I want to be.  As I go down my list each part of my identity is made better by the fact that I have been born again, changed and made new. 

When we find our identity in Christ,

it makes every part of our life

closer to the way it should be.

After being recognized as a Christian, I am most proud of being a husband and father.  I proudly wear my wedding ring as a symbol of my love and commitment to my wife.  I can genuinely love her because of the love that I have been shown by Jesus.  I adore my kids because I know that they are a gift from God.  I can imagine just a little bit the way He loves me because of the way that I love them.

Next I am a Son.  I have great parents that have shown me how to be a good parent to my kids.  I try to honor them as the Bible says I should by being respectful and listening to them and seeking to help them out in whatever ways I can. 

I am also a brother to a younger sister and younger brother.  I am a brother in law.  I am an Uncle to four amazing nieces and nephews.  I am a friend.  In all these facets of who I am, I am able to be better because of He who is in me. 

The simple fact of the matter is, that we must have our priorities in the right order in order to be effective at our relationships with anyone else.  If we don’t put Christ at the head of our lives and our hearts, we will fail miserably in our attempts to be good husbands, wives, parents, friends and so on. 

Your identity in Christ should shape your life for everyone that you come in contact with to see.  There should be no question.  As you become more like Christ, others will see the change in you and appreciate the change they see. 

 

 

 

 

Our Identity In Christ, Part 1

How often have you heard America referred to as “a Christian nation?”  According to a poll by The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life, 78.4% of Americans identify themselves as Christians.  This is an interesting statistic.  If true, then it means that three out of for people you meet today should be easily identifiable by their actions and attitudes and by their walk and their talk.

So what does it mean to BE a Christian?

As Christians, first and foremost we should be identified in Christ Jesus.  In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (NKJV)

So the first mark of a Christian is to become a new creation.  This means that we must have had a change in us.  If I buy a new pair of jeans, the designation of new means that they are different from any other jeans I have worn before.  So it is with Christ.  Once I become a Christian, the old me has been replaced by this new identity in Christ.

In John 15:5, Jesus says to us,

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

The second mark of a Christian is to be intimately connected with Christ.  The word abide here in this passage is indicative of this kind of relationship.  The picture here is of a vine and branches.  Picture a mighty oak tree.  Its branches stretch and twist to the sky and on the end of one of the uppermost limbs is a small acorn.  That acorn is connected to the little branch by a skinny stem.  That little branch works its way back to the larger branches and all the way back to the trunk itself.  The trunk sinks into the ground where a massive root system anchors that tree and provides nutrients for growth and stability.  This is the kind of connection that we must have in Christ.  If the acorn falls from the tree it is apt to be plucked up by an animal, ground underfoot by a passerby or rot back into the dirt.  Only when it is connected to the tree can it grow to fullness.

As Christians, you and I are like that tiny acorn.  When we are connected to Christ, we are fruitful, producing fruit in the form of kindness, gentleness, love, respect, etc.  This connectedness to Christ forms our identity as Christians. 

When we consider our identity, we must not overlook the importance of being connected to Jesus.  On our own we may take His name, but there will be no lasting change in us.  What’s worse, we tend to do more damage to the name of Christ when we aren’t truly connected to Him, because our sin nature kicks in and takes us places we don’t wish to go.

If you have accepted the name of Christ then remember,

It is His name we bear,

His Spirit inside of us,

His Word we study,

His will we seek and

His Cross we bear.


How Strong Is Your Identity?

Have you ever given much thought to your identity?  We’ve all been warned about the dangers of identity theft, which involves who we are on paper—our social security number, credit score, etc.  But does this identity truly represent who we are? 

Although protecting this identity is definitely important, if that identity was stolen you wouldn’t cease to exist as a person.  What is infinitely more important is our identity in this world and how it causes us to relate to others.  Regardless of outside circumstances such as turmoil, job loss, economic woes and tragedy, your fundamental identity need not change.    

My identity can be summed up in the following terms:

Christian

Husband

Father

Son

Grandson

Uncle

Brother

Brother-In-Law

Friend

Employee

Carpenter

Teacher

Writer

Although this list is not all-inclusive, it is very representative of my life.  How does this compare to your list?  It is worth taking a few moments to write your list down and see what it looks like.  It is also important to look at the order of your list.  I have tried to prioritize my identity along these basic lines: loyalty to God; loyalty to my wife, then my kids; loyalty to my extended family members and close friends; loyalty to my employers; and loyalty to my passions and interests.

Where do your loyalties lie?

Our identities shape us for sure, but don’t we make the choices first that put our identities in place?

Over the next few postings I am going to examine what our identity says about us to others and what it should say to ourselves. 

Stay tuned!

 

Do You See What God Sees?

Are you living up to your potential?  I would venture a guess that the large majority of us would have to say that we are not.  Potential is defined as “qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.”  Another definition is “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.”  Very few of us set out to be unsuccessful or unable to attain that which God has for us.  Yet somehow we have an incorrect view of ourselves.  We have allowed others to paint a picture of ourselves that taints our potential.

We have allowed ourselves to settle for good enough, when God wants to give us the extraordinary.  He has promised us that He has plans for each of us.  (Jeremiah 29:11)  The last part of this verse states that these plans are for a “hope and a future.”

This must mean that God sees us as worthwhile.  By that I mean that He sees something in us worth planning and preparing for.  If something has no future, it is discarded and cast aside.  We are far from cast aside by God; in fact quite the opposite is true.  God sees value and worth in us.   He sees us as capable and important.  He has chosen us for a purpose.  Most importantly, He sees us as unique individuals perfectly created and cast for our role in His drama.

So the question becomes, do you see yourself as God sees you?

If not, you are going to continue to live below your potential.  Good enough will continue to be good enough.  It will be sufficient to just get by with our minimum duty as Christians, because when we don’t see ourselves the way God sees us, just getting by is all right.  Furthermore, the world only expects us to be successful in worldly ways; it knows nothing of obedience to God and success as a Christian.

I have it written in my Bible, “Success in God’s eyes is obedience.”

When we see ourselves as God sees us, we strongly desire to obey Him.  We want to follow Him down the adventure He leads us on.  Following Him, we know we are capable and filled with His power and Spirit.   Going where He sends us, although sometimes fraught with spiritual danger, is always worth it in the long run.  And when we take the path that He puts us on, there is no doubt that He will place us exactly where we ought to be.

Father, create in me a clear vision of myself.  Help me to strip off the lenses that hinder my vision of myself.  Help me to realize that in You, I am a new creation.  In you, I have power and strength.  I have been created for a purpose.  I am made for a reason.  Help me see the talents and abilities that I have been given as the gift from you that they are. Help me use them for your glory and your honor so that I reach my full potential in this world as I prepare for the next.