Examine Yourself!

2 Corinthians 13:5-6 “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine.  Test yourselves.  If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test.  I hope you recognize that we have passed the test and are approved by God.”

Well….ok….some events that transpired recently got me looking at this verse again.  Growing up I remember hearing several sermons on it and in my home church around the fall of my freshman year in High School we hired a new pastor.  He was a great preacher and during the first year and a half at our church we experienced a serious revival.  I’m not talking about the bring all your lost friends kicking and screaming type revival….for that is not true revival.  I’m talking about a word from the Lord for the church….a cleaning house sort of thing.  God began to move amongst our congregation and people confessed sin, made things right with fellow believers, and low and behold….people who thought they were saved years ago came marching down that isle weeping and repenting confessing that they needed Jesus!  I remember being exhorted to “examine myself” to see if I was in the faith.  After this happened in our church we were a different congregation!  The Spirit was alive and well in our church, we experienced a love for one another that unified our hearts, our worship was moving and sincere and our hearts were palatable to the Word.  Our congregation began to reach out to our community and we began to grow in record numbers.  It was a sweet time in my life that I will always remember and praise His Name….I was forever changed!

Have you experienced the change that Jesus brings?  Do you really know Him?  Do you sense a deep burden and sorrow over your sin and a urgency to confess and repent before the Lord?  Do you recognize your depravity without Him?  These are things we need to ask ourselves.  Upon my experience in my home church in High School and my examining myself, I am convinced that there are many who sit in our pews/seats each Sunday week after week and they are lost.  Oh….they say that they ” I took care of that a long time ago” or “I prayed that prayer….” or “me and the ‘Man upstairs have an understanding”….but where is the change?  The humility?  The love for God and His children? The obedience to the Word of God? 

I am embarking on a little study right now in I John on the Evidences of Our Faith.  I will post a little everyday so join us and see what comes to light

I was going to put this on the New Life Design Facebook page but the Facebook page is down right now and my dinner is just about ready so I am heading home to eat with my Honey!  I am sure you will understand!  For those of you wondering, “So, is she saying her husband cooks??”  The answer is a resounding YES!!!  If you are wondering how I landed that….well, that was one of the things I prayed for while I was single because I hate to cook!  Sorry if you are already married and you missed out on that one!!  🙂


Living In Larger Life

This morning I was working on my Bible Study and ran across a very good point and I thought I would share it with those of you keeping up with the NLD blog.  The Bible study is Beth Moore’s newest study entitled Esther, It’s Tough Being A Woman.  Today’s lesson was called, “The High and Low of Ego”.  The portion that really struck me dealt with what we teach here at NLD about realizing that we are crucified with Christ and that we are to deny self/flesh and follow Him.  Today’s study centered around Esther 5:9-10 and Haman’s rage at Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to him.  Here was her quote that spoke to me….”Amid all the depravity of this world, man is still God’s prized creation and most valued treasure.  Christ’s purpose in calling us to deny ourselves is that we’d deny our selfishness, ambition, pasts, or any damaged emotions the right to cheat us of His far higher plans for us.”  Wow…is that not the truth?  Our flesh, if left to run it’s own course would so rob us of experiencing all of the life that Christ has called us to.  My flesh wants to cheat me out of experiencing Father’s highest plans for me, God’s love for me and God’s work in and through me.  I have made it my utmost priority to so walk with God and allow His healing in my life that I can experience all of the freedom that He died on the cross to purchase for me.  It is our own hang ups, damaged emotions and sins (which is any way that I am trying to get a legitimate need met in a illegitimate way) that keep us from experiencing the victorious christian life.  In the study we learn that God knows that “nothing leaves us more hollow than being full of ourselves.  We have no greater burden than our own egos.”  She goes on to add that we have nothing more breakable than our own ego’s as well.

2 Corinthians 4:10-12 helps us understand why we are called to this thing the New Testament calls the crucified life.  “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we  who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body.  So, then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”  The point of my study this morning was that any time God calls us to die, His purpose is to reveal larger life.  She mentions that “God’s forte is life.  He’s just not willing to leave things dead.  A paramount theme in Esther is what God can do when we resolve to obey and ‘if I perish, I perish'”.  Before I can be used of God I must be full of God and I can’t be full of God when I am full of myself.  The antidote for our ego’s….knowing your IDENTITY IN CHRIST!  When I know who I am in Christ, the position I hold, the benefits, privileges and inheritance that comes with my relationship with Christ – I’m finally SECURE!  What a safe place!  What a loved place!  What a place of perfect peace regardless of what others say or think about me!  Knowing who I am frees me up to have a correct estimation of myself.  My friend – do you know that if you have relationship with Christ you are no longer a sinner?  Your IDENTITY changed!  2 Corinthians 5:17 says you are a new creation.  Paul calls us “Saints in Christ Jesus” over 60 times in the New Testament!  Let me tell you who you are my friend….listen up….If you are a Christian you were a “Sinner” and now you are as we say here at NLD a “Saint who sometimes sins”  Romans says you were “in Adam” now you are “in Christ”.  You have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light!  If your emotions aren’t lining up with this new truth just yet….it is because you have been believing a lie for way to long and your mind needs to be renewed to the truth of God’s Word – Romans 12:1-2.

So….what is it in your flesh that needs to die in order for you to live in larger life?


Are You Listening?

I have experienced a recurring theme in my life.  It’s that painful feeling of rejection that comes from not being heard.  Sometimes it happens when someone completely misunderstands what I’ve said.  At other times I feel like someone is just not listening or paying attention to what I’m saying.  I’m sure many of you have felt the same way.  It’s a common desire to want to be heard, to be understood, to be known. 

I was struggling in this area this past week when God revealed Himself to me.  I recently heard someone say that God doesn’t speak to us audibly, He speaks louder than that.  The other night, I experienced this when His quiet words penetrated deep into my heart. 

As I began to think about why I was hurt, I poured out my heart to God,(Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:8) “I feel hurt.  I feel unimportant.  I feel of little value.  I feel insignificant.  I want to be heard.  I want to be understood.  I want to be known.  Are my thoughts/feelings not worth something?  Am I not worth listening to?”  I had somewhere along the way in my life made the false assumption that if people listened to me, then I was important, but if people didn’t listen to me, then I was not important.  Because of this false belief, I have looked to people to make me feel significant.  On this evening, I read this paraphrase of Psalm 139:

I know you-when you sit down and get up, what you think.  I carefully watch over you as you move through your day and then sleep at night.  I am intimately acquainted with everything about you. 

Through this, God told me that I’m important; I’m special; He knows me; He pays attention to me.  He is the one who deems me significant, not other people.  If I look to people to be heard, be understood, be known, I will be disappointed and hurt, but if I look to God, I see that I have everything I need in Him.


Today Is My Mother In Law’s Birthday

Grace has so many facets…..so many gifts for us….so much to offer us!  Grace allows us the freedom to be real, authentic, and vulnerable.  When we understand more of who we are in Christ and His enormous love for us, it becomes easier for us to be real with each other-and that is when true relationship takes place.  We spend so much time, energy, and effort trying to “keep up our image”, trying maintain control of our circumstances and those around us and that is exhausting; not to mention impossible to accomplish! 

What does all this have to do with my mother in law and her birthday….well, she is one who is real, vulnerable, and authentic.  Today is her birthday and she is having a tough day and it has nothing to do with being a year older because, quite honestly….I think she really, truly is “over all that” nonsense.  There were bigger issues on her mind.  As she ate lunch with us she was free to be herself, free to not have to act like a super, spiritual giant that has everything under control.  That freed her up to “loosen up”, laugh with her family and allow her own children to encourage her to help her get through the day.  She may have some tough circumstances right now, but she knows her God, she knows who she is, and who she belongs to and that is enough for her.  She knows Grace Himself intimately…..she loves Grace and Grace knows and loves her.  She knows she is secure in Grace and knows that Grace will provide for her.  She knows that Grace is in control of her circumstances and the people around her.  She even knows that Grace will thoroughly work all things together for her good and His Glory. 

Now that’s my mother in law.  Just by being in her presence, she makes me want to be better – to be the best person that I can be – to desire to be all that God intends for me to be.  Yes, I know some of you may be flipping out that someone can actually say they have a mother in law like that.  Well, you see, I prayed for a long time for a “wonderful, spirit filled mother in LOVE” and she was worth the wait!  Even when I struggle and fall back in my legalistic ideas of living, she speaks grace to me and loves me just the way that I am and accepts me as one of her own – no rules, no expectations (maybe except to love her son-ha-ha), no requirements.  She just loves.

You may be wondering who my mother in law is.  Well, because of who she is and her humility she would not want her name mentioned in something like this.  If you know her you would agree with me.  She would only want your prayers and for you to come and get to know this man who changed her life – Grace Himself – Jesus Christ.  She would tell you that when you experience Him and hear what He has to say about you – you would fall in love with Him immediately.  So, what are you waiting for….”Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

So….to a wonderful, spirit filled “Mother In Love”…..Happy Birthday!  If I could turn out to be just half of what you and my own mother are like…..wow…..that would be awesome!  I am so blessed!


Earthen Vessels

This is a little piece of what God said to me at the AELM Conference we attended this past weekend.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves”  2 Corinthians 4:7

Jesus is the treasure in my weak, frail body.  He is the potter.  I am the clay. He is the creator.  I am the creature.

What does this mean?  It means I don’t have to be strong because I was created to depend on God’s strength.  It’s okay to be weak.  I don’t have to be right because I was created to depend on His righteousness.  It’s okay to be wrong.  I don’t have to be in control because I was created to depend upon His control.  It’s okay that I can’t control others or my circumstances.  I don’t have to be perfect because I was created to depend on His perfection.  It’s okay to fail. 

For most of my life I have strived to appear strong, right, in control, and perfect.  This has led to much conflict and frustration and bondage.  Why?  Because I can’t do it.  I fail everyday, which leads to guilt and condemnation and trying harder to perform.  Praise God for the victory that is ours through Christ Jesus!!  I am free!!  Free to fail, free to be weak, free to mess up, free to be wrong, free to be out of control.  I am not supposed to be perfect, strong, right, or in control.  That’s the Creator’s job.  I am the creature:-)  My job is simply to depend upon and draw life from my Creator. 


I am okay! I am acceptable! I am good enough!

Colossians 1:21-22

“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach”

As I sat down to read my Bible the other day, I prayed that the Holy Spirit would reveal truth to my heart through the scripture, and that is exactly what He did.  I read the verses above and asked the question to myself, “What does it mean that I am holy, blameless, and beyond reproach?”  Those are churchy words that I have memorized, but I don’t really know what they mean.  Then God answered my question in one of those “light bulb coming on” or “ah-ha moments”.  It means that “I am okay!  I am acceptable!  I am good enough!”  This spoke right to my heart because when I depend on my flesh, I often feel/think that something’s wrong with me, I’m unacceptable, or I’m not good enough.  Now I have a deeper personal understanding of the truth that destroys those lies.  Thank you, Jesus!


The Initial Key Application of Our Identity in Christ

What is the initial key application of our Identity in Christ?  Want to know the answer right up front?  If I tell you will you continue reading the blog article?  Want me to quit jerking your chain?  Ha-Ha!!  Okay, but only if you promise to continue reading the blog.  The answer as I see it is Prayer!  Prayer is the initial key application of our identity in Christ.  I Thess. 5:17 tells us to “pray continually”.  That is exactly the heart’s desire of someone in whom Christ lives and who is experiencing his love and acceptance.  The moment we are moved to approach God in prayer, the extent to which we trust in His acceptance comes immediately into play.  How confident are we that His ears are open to us?  I don’t believe that very many Christians have much assurance in prayer and it’s because we don’t know who we are.

John 6:35 Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”  We must have faith and believe that God’s Word is true regardless of how we may “feel” on any given day.  We know our emotions are a direct result of what we believe and for us ladies emotions can be affected by what mood our hormones are in.  Gee…did I just admit that on a public blog??  I hope my husband doesn’t read this one!  Oh, just kidding…..seriously, our emotions are like the wind sometimes – here today and gone tomorrow.  However, I am glad to know that Christ can bring healing to my emotions by renewing my mind with truth.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

God totally accepts us and can because of our identity change at the moment we accept the gift of life from His Son, Jesus Christ.  Because of Christ blood shed on the cross for me and my belief in that fact my identity goes from sinner to saint!  I go from being in the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.  Before I become a Christian my core identity comes from the sin nature present in my spirit and after salvation my core identity comes from the new nature that is put in place of the old nature.  Before, the person that we were was sin and it affected our behavior.  We had no other option but to sin.  Now, the person that we are is saint, clean, new, righteous – that is our identity and it affects our behavior as well.  There is a “want to” with regards to doing the right thing and we now have a choice to do the right thing.  Simply put, because of Christ in us empowering us, we can chose to do the right thing.

Christ fully loves us and accepts us so He will lovingly put His arm around us and tell us the truth about a sinful action in our behavior.  He doesn’t see us any differently but because He does love us like this He will reveal to us when we are walking after the flesh because He wants to protect us and help us avoid harmful situations and things.

Now, when I grasp that this is how God loves and accepts me….that I don’t ever have to fear rejection with Him….that makes me want to fellowship with Him more.  How does fellowship occur with God?  Is it baking a casserole and taking it to the church?  Fellowship with God begins with PRAYER!  Talking to Him and listening as He Talks to us!  I love that sweet time with Him.  You know, those friends that are just a “joy” to be with are those that I can’t wait to spend time with and eagerly look forward to being with.  I feel that way around them because they love and accept me and I don’t fear rejection from them.  That is how God wants you to feel with Him.  The punishment for our sin was taken care of at the cross, forgiveness is ours for the receiving.  Now, go to your heavenly Father who longs to be with you, who longs to talk with you, laugh with you, cry with you and minister to you and who will fully equip you to walk this journey.

– Dana

Every woman’s insecurity–I feel fat!

A couple of Sundays ago while getting ready for church, I excitedly put on a new outfit I had just received for my birthday.  I had gone shopping with my mom about a month prior, tried on the pants, my mom bought them and saved them for my birthday.  Now the time had come to wear my new outfit.  But, to my dismay, the pants didn’t fit.  “WHAT!?!  They fit just fine a month ago!  What happened?”  They didn’t just feel tight, they looked too tight–inappropriate to wear out of the house too tight.  “Have I gained that much weight in one month?,” I thought.  “I look awful!  I feel so fat!  I just keep getting bigger and bigger!”  I felt quite discouraged and down on myself. 

I believe this is a very common feeling.  It usually leads to trying one diet plan after another.  Sometimes we find success, but often not.  Often we try to change our behavior or change the way we appear on the outside without fixing the real problem on the inside–our thoughts & beliefs.  That may work for a little while, but if we don’t address the root cause, the problem’s going to reappear in one form or another.  It’s like smoke coming from a fire.  You could spray some air freshener or open a window to try and get rid of the smoke smell, or you could go find the fire and put it out.  As a friend of mine says, “Follow the smoke trail.”

Well, that’s just what I did on that Sunday afternoon.  As I weeded through my thoughts and emotions, I discoved a few beliefs that were incorrect.  I found the fire:  (1)  My outward appearance makes me acceptable and valuable, (2)  I can get a good measure of my personal worth/value by comparing myself to others, and (3)  I can increase my personal worth/value by losing weight.  These are the false beliefs that led me to get down on myself, cry, compare myself to more people to try to make me feel better, and try even harder to lose weight. 

In taking this time with God to identify my feeling, thoughts, and false beliefs, He revealed His Truth to me, and that made all the difference in the world.  My value is not based on my appearance–it is based on being God’s creation and His child!  Psalm 139 says, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  God values me so much that He planned for His only Son to die so that He could have me back.  Because of Christ, I am “accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:6)  When I compare myself to others to see how I measure up, it’s like giving them permission to determine my personal worth.  The truth it that only God can assign value to His creation.  He says I’m already acceptable and valuable, so there’s no need for me to prove myself  WOW!  That’s freeing! Knowing the truth frees me up to take care of my body because I know I’m valuable.


Our Spiritual Inheritance In Christ Jesus

      I thought I would post this on our NLD Blog.  I had the wonderful opportunity to share this message with a women’s group in Douglasville on Valentine’s Day.  They were so warm and receptive and I appreciated the opportunity to share some time with them for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  Check out the five teaching points below entitled “Our Spiritual Inheritance In Christ Jesus”. 

1.        In Christ, you are spiritually one with Him –

I Corinthians 6:17 says, “But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.”  Not only did Christ die for you, but you died with Christ. 

“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him…”  Romans 6:6; Cf. Gal. 2:20

In fact, you were also buried with Him, raised with Him, and have even ascended with Him.  Romans 6:4; Ephesians 2:5-6  This has radical implication for your spiritual life!

 2.       In Christ, you are free from the authority of sin

The old man is now out of the picture:  “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin”  Praise the Lord – We don’t have to sin anymore – there is complete freedom in Christ!  Romans 6:6 

What liberating truth.  John 8:32 “And you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” 

3.       In Christ, you are a partaker of His resurrection life

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, he lives to God.  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:8; 10-11.  Does a dead man talk?  Does a dead man interact with life and friends?  NO…HE’S DEAD!  We are to consider ourselves DEAD to sin!  This resurrection life is our resource for living victoriously Ephesians 1:16-21. 

4.       In Christ, you have a new identity –

Although you still have a relative identity based on your gender, race, personality, family status, etc., these are now secondary:  “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew, nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus “ Galatians 3:26-28.  Since your essential identity is based on spiritual rebirth, you are called a believer, a royal priesthood, a fellow citizen with the saints, a member of God’s house hold, an ambassador for Christ, and His workmanship!  I Peter 2:9; Ephesians 2:9-10, 2 Cor. 5:20.  “How great a love that the Father has lavished on us that we should be called Children of God and that is what we are.”  I John 3:1.  When our mind is renewed with Truth this inspires us to dignified words and actions that adorn the doctrine of the grace of God.

 5.       In Christ, you have a new nature –

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons.  They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone.  A new life has begun!” As Paul testified, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward manRomans 7:22.  Living righteously corresponds with the real you. “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His (God’s) seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” I John 3:9.  Since a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, sinful desires are attributed to the flesh.  This carnal aspect of the soul is in us, but it is not us.  Does this sound like theological hair-splitting?  Apparently not to the apostle Paul.  According to Romans 7:20, he specified: “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” Romans 7:20.  Of course, this does not excuse our responsibility for our actions.  Yet, it is reassuring to know that your essential nature (spirit) is holy and completely on God’s side.  When the believer is born again, God’s DNA (so to speak) is placed into his human spirit.  To use Peter’s phrase, we have been made “partakers of the divine nature” 2 Peter 1:4.

Isn’t this great news that enables glorious living!!  It literally is a “NEW LIFE DESIGN”!!  Praise the Lord – He changes the way we think in order to change the way we feel in order to change the way we behave.