All posts in “IDENTITY”

dan schlueter idenetity

IDENTITY -DAN SCHLUETER

IDENTITY

DAN SCHLUETER

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

Have you ever done something you knew was wrong in life, simply because you felt pressure from your friends? This can appear in many forms, such as, underage drinking, drug use, premarital sex, lying, theft, and the list can go on and on. 1 Cor. 6:19-20 reminds us that we don’t have to do these crazy things to impress or fit in with our friends. If we have a relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ we belong to God. We were bought with a price! God loves you for you and you don’t have to do any crazy things to make him love you any more or less than he already does.

QUESTION 1. What have you done to impress your friends that you knew in the end would not be pleasing to God?
QUESTION 2. Before you give an answer to this question, really think about where your heart is with God. Who do you care to impress more, your friends or God? (Think of some specific situations)
CHALLENGE: Put your energy towards loving God first and worrying less about what your friends think and more about what God thinks about you. God loves you for you! He made you special and we challenge you to treat Him like He’s special, too.
allie coupe 3

IDENTITY -ALLIE COUPE

IDENTITY

ALLIE COUPE

1 Corinthians 7:7

Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

 I’ve always had a passion for writing. But as I got to college I started to second guess pursuing that career. People would tell me that there is no way God could use my writing for his kingdom unless I was a pastor writing books. Or that maybe I would be forced to write things that wouldn’t please God. I didn’t listen to these people and pursued my passion anyway, knowing that God had put it there for a reason. And guess what? I was able to write travel blogs that inspired thousands of people, and write this very devotional you’re reading now, all because I didn’t ignore my God-given passions and talent.

What is your passion? You don’t need to be a pastor or missionary to do wonderful things for God’s kingdom. God needs Christians in every area of life including movies, music, the court room, politics, books, or whatever it may be. He didn’t give you a passion just to listen to things like, “Oops, hope you didn’t have a heart for that, because there’s no way you’re doing that.” No! Follow your passion and use whatever it is to further God’s kingdom and love whomever you come into contact with.

QUESTION 1. List a few of your passions. What are they?
QUESTION 2. How could you use these passions for God’s kingdom? I promise you, whatever it is, there is a way.
CHALLENGE: Look at the passions God has already placed in your heart and then pray and ask God how best to use them for his kingdom. He’ll be delighted to show you.
mick silvers 2

IDENTITY -MICK SILVERS

IDENTITY

MICK SILVERS

Galatians 1:10

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Confession: I am a people pleaser. For as long as I can remember, I have sought to gain the approval of people around me. I wanted to know that I was valuable in their sight because if everyone else thought I was somebody then it must be true…right? I cannot tell you how much pain comes from living a people pleasing lifestyle. Nobody knows how much I fight for their acceptance, so when they aren’t so quick to give me their approval I fight harder.

When I was a freshman in High School, I made the JV volleyball team. I heard that many of the older girls did not think I should’ve been put on the team because I wasn’t as good as others. Hearing this sparked my people pleasing mentality and I worked overtime to try to prove them wrong, make my coach proud, and be a valid member of the team. I worked my body so hard that I ended up getting really sick. My body was so tired of trying to keep up with my desire to please everyone that it literally starting shutting down. I got so sick that I could no longer play volleyball, go to school, or do anything the way I usually did. It took almost ten months for my body to recover from my illness. Not only could I not live up to everyone’s expectations of me, but now I could no longer live a normal life. It is no wonder why God’s Word encourages us not to live to please others.

When we look at the story of Jesus’ trial before he was killed, we see the effect of people pleasing take place. Pilate did not want to sentence Jesus to death. In fact, he wanted to release him. However, he had to do what the people wanted, which resulted in Jesus being tortured and killed. People pleasing ultimately led to the death of Jesus Christ.

Now, these are some pretty extreme examples; however, Paul makes it clear that we have an important choice to make about who we are going to aim to please with our lives. Who we aim to please is who we end up living our lives for. Who are you living for?

QUESTION 1. In what ways do you try to please others more than you try to please God?
QUESTION 2. What is the difference between serving people, like Jesus did, and pleasing people in your life?
CHALLENGE: Check your motives as to why you are doing what you do in each area of your life. Reevaluate anything that is done to please others.
lauren berryhill 2

IDENTITY -LAUREN BERRYHILL

IDENTITY

LAUREN BERRYHILL

1 Corinthians 4:7

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

You can learn a lot from spending time with kids! When kids get ahold of something, it is automatically theirs and a lot of times there is no convincing them otherwise. So many times I have given a child a toy or object to play with and when I’d ask them to share it with me later their response would be “No! It’s mine!” when in reality it wasn’t theirs but something I had given them to use temporarily.

How often do you do the same thing with the gifts God has given you? Whether it is your belongings, your talents, your passions, or your time, it has all been given to you. All of these are gifts meant to be used for a greater purpose. Picture a child given a building block that is meant to be used to build a castle. Your gifts from the Lord are building blocks to be used to help advance his Kingdom here on earth!

Everyone has been given a unique set of gifts. Yours are valuable, so use them wisely! Don’t hold onto them so tight that you are not allowing God to use them for his glory. Scripture says that every good gift is from God; as his children we have the opportunity to use those gifts for something greater than ourselves!

QUESTION 1. What gifts do you have that can be used to do the work of God?
QUESTION 2. In what areas in your life have you been taking all the credit for your abilities or relying on your own strength rather than the Lord’s?
CHALLENGE: Make a list of all the things you are good at and all you enjoy doing. Find ways to use those things for God’s glory this week!
Dugan Sherbondy 1 Identity LG

IDENTITY -DUGAN SHERBONDY

IDENTITY

DUGAN SHERBONDY

As children many of us have played with Legos, dolls, or some kind of toys that brought us into a make-believe world of fun and adventure. Some of us may have pretended we were someone famous or really important like a princess, superhero, or famous sports figure. Creating a world of make-believe or pretending to be someone or something we aren’t can be a lot of fun sometimes, but let’s face it; sometimes people can take pretending a little too far, so far that it can even become destructive.

If we’re honest about it, sometimes all of us get so concerned with putting on a show or persona for God and the people around us that we end up becoming someone completely different; completely not ourselves and completely fake. The big problem hits us when we realize that who we pretend to be really isn’t what makes us happy in the end. Why? Because we aren’t being authentic to who God is and who God made us to be.

So, pretend with Legos all you want, but when it comes to who you are, be real with God. You just might be surprised how great it can feel to truly be yourself, without any pretending.

QUESTION 1. If you were to look at your life closely, are there any ways that you are pretending to be someone or something you’re really not?
QUESTION 2. Are there areas in your life where you are being fake, or maybe giving a false impression about who you really are towards others? (Explain)
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to know who you are, to be real with God and to experience the freedom and joy that comes from knowing who God is and who he has made you to be!
kyler malarae 1

IDENTITY -KYLER MALARAE

IDENTITY

KYLER MALARAE

Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

 What do you find your identity in? For some, it is the sports they play, for others it is the type of clothes they wear, the kind of friends they have, or their job. For me, it was the band I played in. I thought by playing in a band it would make me instantly popular and cool. Well it did, for a short time, but then it faded away and I was left feeling empty because I had just poured all my heart and energy into my identity as a musician.

We place such a high importance on our identity that when we inevitably don’t do well in it at some point then we feel like we have failed at life or that people won’t like us anymore. But God wants us to find our identity in him, the only one who won’t fade[is fade the right word? maybe disappoint] or fail us. When we begin to shift our viewpoint and find our worth and identity in Christ, then we will be renewed and will find the desires of this world growing smaller and smaller.

But how do we shift our view of ourselves? It isn’t easy; it takes spending time in God’s word and knowing what he says about us. It means speaking His truth into your life when the world tells you you’ve failed yet again, but God tells you he loves you just the same. Spend some time this week seeking God and ask him what lies you need to stop believing about yourself, and once he reveals them to you, destroy them. Then ask him to let you see yourself through his eyes; you’ll be blown away by how wonderful and perfect you are in the eyes of God.

QUESTION 1. What do you find your identity in? Is it lasting?
QUESTION 2. What are some truths that God says about you? Find some scripture to back them up, then memorize them.
CHALLENGE: No matter what your passion is, or where you find your identity, know that God’s passion for you and his view of you are infinitely better than anything this world can ever offer.
danae zeigle 1

IDENTITY -DANAE ZEIGLE

IDENTITY

DANAE ZEIGLE

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Have you ever felt that you’ve disappointed God, or feared that he could never love you again after all the bad choices you’ve made?

Satan loves to use fear to guide you away from God’s true essence, that is, his perfect Love (1 John 4:8). If he can’t take you away from God by enticing you with sin then he will try to take you away from God by making you feel that what you’ve done could never be forgiven. Satan is known as the Father of lies (John 8:44), and he wants you to believe that you will never be good enough or deserving of God’s love.

What you need to remember is that you are loved by God, not because of what you’ve done, but because of who you are. The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). God loves you more than you can ever know and there is nothing that will tear you away from his love.

QUESTION 1. Have you ever done things or continue to do things that cause you to fear God’s punishment? (If so, what)
QUESTION 2. What does it mean for God to love you not because of what you’ve done but because of who you are in Christ?
CHALLENGE: If you’re in fear of God’s punishment then you are in fear of God’s perfect love. He’s not looking down on you disappointed. He’s looking down on you like you’re His child. We challenge you to know who you are in Christ and, with all the power of the Holy Spirit, overcome that fear of punishment, and really experience God’s perfect love.
jessica dunn 4

IDENTITY -JESSICA DUNN

IDENTITY

JESSICA DUNN

John 15:4

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

 It is so easy to try to do life on our own power. We get it in our heads that we are more than capable of living our lives apart from God. Then we start to get our sense of worth and purpose from others instead of Jesus. When we start to believe those lies we are detaching ourselves from our only true source of strength and power, and we begin to get battered and destroyed by the world.

It is of the utmost importance to stay connected to your true source of life, Jesus Christ. If you believe that you can do it on your own and believe the lies of the world, then you won’t be able to fulfill the purpose God has for your life. I begin every day by praying something like this, “God, you are in control. My identity is in you and I am your beloved son. Give me the strength and guidance that I need for today and today only. My trust is completely in you.” This is so I never forget who is really in control. If you remain in God’s strength and see yourself through his eyes, it’ll be much harder to believe the lies of the world because you’ll be so saturated in his love and guidance.

QUESTION 1. How much of your day do you rely on just yourself? Even for small, trivial matters?
QUESTION 2. How often do you ask God for his strength in any given day?
CHALLENGE: Find those things that fill you with life and that allow you to connect with Christ and do those. Stop believing that you can do it all on your own. You will fail. But with God, anything is possible. Remain in Him.
jessica dunn 1

IDENTITY -JESSICA DUNN

IDENTITY

JESSICA DUNN

Psalms 139:13-14

For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well.

 At some point in our lives we have all desired to be something we’re not. When I was younger I wanted to be an actor, but the problem was that I couldn’t act. Maybe for you it was an astronaut or a firefighter. It could be to be good at sports, or to be the cool bodybuilder kid everyone fawns on, or the cheerleader that always gets invited to the parties. It is so easy to desire to be something we’re not and it’s easy to not like the person God created us to be. Sometimes we feel like maybe God messed up with us.

Think about this though, who are you hurting by not being the person God created you to be? He’s made you to be the most perfect you in the entire world, the best you of all time. No one else can do exactly what you’ve been made to do. What if God means for you to be the person who finds a cure for cancer or writes the next great American novel and you don’t do it? You’re robbing the world of the incredible gift you have and are. As author and pastor, John Piper puts it, “The world doesn’t need more cool, hip, culturally savvy, irrelevant copies of itself.” Stop trying to be something you aren’t and embrace the fearfully and wonderfully made person that God wants and needs you to be.

QUESTION 1. When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up? As you’ve grown older what is it now? The cool kid? The smart one? The popular party animal?
QUESTION 2. Are you scared of being yourself because others might not accept you?
CHALLENGE: Stop being someone you aren’t and accept who it is you have been created to be. God is going to use you to do incredible things for his kingdom.
hillary kaiser 3

IDENTITY -HILLARY KAISER

IDENTITY

HILLARY KAISER

Genesis 1:27

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Do you ever struggle with feeling insignificant? Do you ever look up at the stars and feel so small you wonder where you even fit in a universe so big? I have. I’ve struggled with not feeling significant or worthwhile and I know many of you have, too. But I’ve found while looking at the stars does make me feel small it also makes me realize how big God is; and that is where the secret to beating worthlessness lies.

The God who painted the fields with lilies, who made the rainforest lush, who put our planet into motion, is the same God who created you. Think about this: the universe He created is so huge scientists can’t find the end of it. And you aren’t only created by this big God; you are created in the image of him. With this knowledge, how can we ever feel small or insignificant? We are image bearers of God.

The enemy loves to make us feel worthless, because when we feel worthless we become ineffective in the kingdom of God. If you are struggling with feeling worthless, know you are infinitely worthwhile because the grand architect made you perfect, no matter how imperfect you think you are.

QUESTION 1. Do you struggle with feeling insignificant?
QUESTION 2. What are some ways you could remind yourself of your worth?
CHALLENGE: Remember you are infinitely loved and worthwhile because God made you perfect. Look at the stars, take in the vastness of it all, and know the same God who created everything also intricately made you.
Ashley Cronen 2

IDENTITY -ASHLEY CRONEN

IDENTITY

ASHLEY CRONEN

Psalm 94:18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me.

It has been said, “the meaning of life is to love and be loved.” To be unconditionally loved! However, where do we find unconditional love? The problem with love is that we crave it so much that we look for it in all the wrong places and become easily duped. In fact, many times we end up looking towards other people, and especially romantic relationships, to find that unconditional love. I’ll make the safe assumption that the majority of you who read this have been hurt at one time or another by someone you were in a relationship with, a family member, or a good friend. In general, you were hurt because you loved the person and you thought he or she loved you, too; but for whatever reason, that person let you down or just chose to stop loving you.

When we show love to someone and that person doesn’t show it back it hurts us. No one knows that better than Jesus Christ. God wants us to love him; he want’s us to love him with all of our hearts, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). God want’s us to find our ultimate satisfaction and identity in him. It is God who will unconditionally love you no matter what! It is God who will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6)! God is love, and there is nothing that he does outside of his love. People, however, are not love. People are never perfect and people are bound to make mistakes. If we place our identity in others, we will be eventually disappointed; but if we place our identity in God, we will never be disappointed, because God’s love is unfailing!

QUESTION 1. Have you ever been hurt by someone you love/loved? Explain.
QUESTION 2. Where would you say that you find your identity, your unconditional love (God or Others)?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to place your identity in God and rest in his “unfailing love!”
claire white 2

IDENTITY -CLAIRE WHITE

IDENTITY

CLIRE WHITE

Psalm 62:8

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

 It can be overwhelming, scary, and confusing when you start a new period of life such as going to a new school, starting college, moving, a new job, or even when you end a long relationship. It’s easy to lie to yourself, telling yourself that nobody understands the things you’re going through, and to isolate yourself because, “They just don’t know.”

But even when no one else seems to understand your pain, God does. He is the safest and most trustworthy person you can talk to about your problems. You can share every triumph and failure and He’ll still love you and understand you perfectly, no matter what. After all, He created you, He knows you better than anyone.

“That’s all great, but God doesn’t answer me. He can’t talk back, so why bother?” But He does. When you pour your heart out to the only one who will never misunderstand you, God will talk to you; through the Bible, through other people, through circumstances, even through an inaudible voice. Just try it. Lay all your challenges, stress, and overwhelming situations at the feet of Jesus and you’ll find yourself enjoying more peace than you could ever receive from telling another person.

QUESTION 1. When you’re faced with something that makes you feel like no one else could understand what you’re going through, do you isolate yourself? Where do you turn?
QUESTION 2. How often have you given these circumstances to God? If you have, how did you feel after pouring your heart out to Him?
CHALLENGE: Pour your heart out to God. He is safe. He is love. He cares about your heart and understands exactly where you are.
charlie berstler

IDENTITY -CHARLIE BERSTLER

IDENTITY

CHARLIE BERSTLER

Philippians 3:8

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.

For many of us, the opinion of others means everything. If it’s the popular thing to do, we do it. If it’s the unpopular thing to do, like being a Christian, we downplay it or don’t talk about it. We find our identity in the opinions of others but it ends up making us die inside, and then we don’t even know who we are anymore.

But God does. He knows you better than your boyfriend or girlfriend or parents. In His eyes you are the most wonderful and perfect creation. Paul tells us in Philippians that he considers all the gains, all the fame, and all the money in the world to be complete garbage compared to knowing Jesus. There is nothing that can compete with knowing Jesus and him knowing you.

So what is it that is defining you? Is it a certain group of friends? Your social status? Whatever it is that you find your identity in, if it isn’t Jesus, get rid of it. Ask God how to detach yourself from that view of yourself so that you’ll be able to see yourself as he sees you, wonderful and complete.

QUESTION 1. Where do you get your identity from?
QUESTION 2. How do you see yourself? How does God see you?
CHALLENGE: Detach yourself from the people and things that are wrongly defining you and then bask in the wonderful identity that God has given you.
claire white 1

IDENTITY -CLAIRE WHITE

INDENTITY

CLAIRE WHITE

II Corinthians 12:10

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

You can’t be perfect. You can’t have it all together. You can’t get it all right. This can be hard to hear. We strive so hard to be perfect in our looks, in how we act and in what we do that we tend to ignore who it is who actually gives us that perfection.

Paul tells us in Corinthians that he was content with being weak, insulted, and persecuted. How can that be? How can anyone be content in weakness and insults? It’s because Paul knew that Christ’s strength was made perfect in his weakness.

When we rely on our own power to be perfect we will fail every time. We are weak, and that’s okay, because it’s Christ who defines us and he is the one who ultimately gives us strength. When we accept our weaknesses it allows us to rely fully on Him* and, in the end, it glorifies God. There is so much freedom to be had in that.

QUESTION 1. In what areas of your life do you strive to be perfect?
QUESTION 2. Do you think it’s okay to be weak and show flaws?
CHALLENGE: Accept your brokenness, flaws, and mistakes and then allow Christ to be your strength every day by simply asking him. It’s that simple.
bryan novak 1

IDENTITY -BRYAN NOVAK

IDENTITY

BRYAN NOVAK

Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Read the above verse again. Now read it again. Let the truth in it wash over you and free you from all your self-consciousness, from all the lies you believe about yourself. In this verse, David is praising God because his works are wonderful and David is part of God’s wonderful work. Don’t think for a second that you’re exempt from the truth in this verse. Every single one of us, despite what we may see as imperfections, is fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of everything. God put you in your body, at this moment of time, for a reason.

Do you understand the implications of this? Because we are made wonderful in the eyes of God we don’t have to worry about what others think about us anymore. Why would the opinion of one person on a planet of 7 billion matter when the God of all creation already finds you perfect?

No longer do you need to worry about what the people next to you in church are thinking as you raise your hands to worship Jesus. No longer does it matter what your co-workers say when you bring up your faith. The only opinion that matters is that of God, and he calls you fearfully and wonderfully made. Now go and live in that freedom.

QUESTION 1. What lies about yourself have you believed over the years? Do you think that you’re wonderful in the eyes of God?
QUESTION 2. How would you live differently if you didn’t care what others thought about you? Would you be bolder or more on fire for Jesus?
CHALLENGE: Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. The God of the universe put you here and now for a reason. So go, live fully and unashamedly embrace that purpose.
ashley birdsall 1

IDENTITY -ASHLEY BIRDSALL

IDENTITY

ASHLEY BIRDSALL

Jeremiah 29:11

“…For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”

 When someone is going through a rough time, the Christian clichés tell him or her, “God has this. It’ll all be okay. I’ll pray for you…etc.” But the truth is life can suck sometimes. It just does. When a family member gets sick and passes away, that sucks. When an accident happens, that sucks. This may be hard to hear, but in this fallen world bad things are going to happen to you. Don’t be deceived, though, God never causes those bad things to happen. Although, it can be impossible for us to know why He rescues us sometimes, and not in other times.

Sometimes the hardest thing can turn into the best thing. The most trying time can turn into the most beautiful time. It’s so hard to see the good in the moment, but in retrospect you can always see where God worked it out for good for those that trust in Him. That’s something you should never forget; God has your back and has wonderful plans for your life. You may not know why something bad happens until after the fact. We may not even know or understand until we get to heaven, but what we do know is God has a plan and we just need to trust him in the good and bad times.

QUESTION 1. When was the last time you went through something that was really hard?
QUESTION 2. Looking back, can you see where God used it for good and for his glory?
CHALLENGE: Don’t doubt God’s wonderful plan for your life. In the hard times, lean into God harder.
audrey jenkins 1

IDENTITY -AUDREY JENKINS

IDENTITY

AUDREY JENKINS

Psalm 139:13-14

For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well.

 Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in? We’ve all had a point—or a hundred—where we felt completely out of our element, awkward, or even worthless. I remember when I was in high school I used to wonder if I would ever fit in anywhere. I wasn’t the most popular person in school, nor the sportiest. I was what high-schoolers would call average. But God destroyed those lies when I first heard the verse above. I have never felt worthless since.

Think about it; the all-mighty God of all creation, everything that lives, everything in the cosmos, the grand architect, is the one that formed you to be exactly who you are. And you know what he calls you? Perfect. Wonderful. While some of us may think that God made a mistake, the verse in Psalms confirms that God certainly does not make mistakes. He made you to look the way you do, to act the way you do, to be who you are, and he calls you perfect.

So stop believing the lies of the enemy and the world who say you aren’t good enough or pretty enough. Then bask in the peace and comfort of knowing that the Creator of all made you to be specifically you; fearfully and wonderfully made.

QUESTION 1. Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in or that God made a mistake with a certain aspect of you?
QUESTION 2. Are you buying into the lies of the world and shoving God’s perfect design of you to the side?
CHALLENGE: Whatever you used to believe about yourself, destroy it. Remember that you are the way you are for a purpose and that you are infinitely beautiful because you are created by God.
MArquel Nickens

IDENTITY -MARQUEL NICKENS

IDENTITY

MARQUEL NICKENS

1 Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

How often have we entered a specific social situation and immediately put on a mask so that we can fit in? Maybe it’s at school where you wear certain clothes so that the hipsters will accept you, or at your youth group where you act like everything is A-OK and that you never struggle with anything. Our friends may fall for the masks we wear but God doesn’t. He knows the real you; He created you. There is no use trying to cover up your messiness around God; he’ll see right through it.

The truth is that everyone is messy, and we could help each other out so much better if we all just acknowledged our messiness and stopped acting like we’re perfect. It’s exhausting. A good place to start is being real with God. He doesn’t see the cool clothes you wear or the way you talk in order to fit in; God looks at your heart. The more real you become with God and the more you realize that he loves you despite all your messiness the easier it will become to be real with everyone around you too. No matter how good your mask is, people will eventually see through it. Be who God made you and thrive in the knowledge that you are perfectly and wonderfully made.

QUESTION 1. Do you put on a mask when you are in certain social situations?
QUESTION 2. Is it easy to maintain that mask or is it exhausting? Why is it so hard to just be yourself and be real?
CHALLENGE: Seek a personal and real relationship with God. Don’t coast through life just going through the outward motions. Ask God to break those masks and he will.
Amber Hall 1

IDENTITY -AMBER HALL

IDENTITY

AMBER HALL

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

There are many messages that the world and popular media are sending our way. For example, you’re not skinny enough, you’re not tall enough, you’re not rich enough, athletic enough, smart enough, pretty enough, and the list can go no and on. In fact, by the end of day, we end up feeling horrible about ourselves because no one can live up to these worldly expectations. No one knows that better than the corporate world, which more often than not preys on your insecurities for their financial gain. You know the ads: buy this or that product and you will finally feel good about yourself, the ladies will be all over you, or the guys will not be able to resist you. The only problem is that once you purchase this or that product you quickly realize that the product wasn’t the answer to your problems. You don’t need to look any further than the fact that the companies are always putting out new and improved products every year because somehow last year’s products are no longer cutting it.

You may have heard the popular phrase, “the truth will set you free.” The truth is that we were never created to conform to this world, but rather to God. The truth is that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), far more precious than rubies (Proverbs 3:15). You are accepted, loved, wanted and significant to God. God has a purpose for you; he loves you for you, and he wants you to see yourself through his eyes. Don’t let the world steal the truth about who and who’s you are: rather, fall fully into the arms of Jesus and let him be the sole source of your identity.

QUESTION 1. How has the thief (i.e. the world, Satan) stolen or fed you lies about your true identity according to God? If you were to describe yourself, how would you do it? Would you say you’re beautiful, loved, wanted, and accepted by God?
QUESTION 2. Being honest with yourself, would you say that your identity is found more in God or in what your peers say to and about you? Explain.
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to let God take command of your life. Let God be the one who gives you your identity and live free knowing that you’re loved, wanted and significant!
Vic Coleman

IDENTITY -VIC COLEMAN

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VIC COLEMAN

Psalm 27:10

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.

This may seem shocking to some, but there are lots of people in this world who have never heard the words, “I love you.” Maybe for some you’ve heard those words but there is no weight behind them and you wonder, “Why am I not worth it? Does anyone even care?” To feel unloved and unwanted is crippling. It makes it hard to even get out of bed some days let alone do anything.

But here’s the thing, people will disappoint in this life and they can knock you down, but God picks you back up. Your parents may forsake you, but God adopts you and takes you in. Nobody is perfect, but God is and he is your heavenly father who loves you no matter what’s in your past, present, or future. He will always love you and always be there. The problem is that we carry our wounds from earthly relationships into our relationship with God and we think that because those persons don’t love us God couldn’t either. But those are lies that the enemy wants us to believe, lies that will keep us from being effective. You are the beloved son or daughter of the creator; what a beautiful thought that is.

QUESTION 1. Do you ever feel unloved or not worth it?
QUESTION 2. Do you believe that God thinks you are completely worth it—so worth it that he sent his son to die for you?
CHALLENGE: Build that personal relationship with your heavenly Father. You are good enough for him; he is the perfect father who will never leave you or forsake you.
jessica dunn 1

IDENTITY -JESSICA DUNN

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JESSICA DUNN

Psalm 139:13-14

For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well.

At some point in our lives we have all desired to be something we’re not. When I was younger I wanted to be an actor, but the problem was that I couldn’t act. Maybe for you it was an astronaut or a firefighter. It could be to be good at sports, or to be the cool bodybuilder kid everyone fawns on, or the cheerleader that always gets invited to the parties. It is so easy to desire to be something we’re not and it’s easy to not like the person God created us to be. Sometimes we feel like maybe God messed up with us.

Think about this though, who are you hurting by not being the person God created you to be? He’s made you to be the most perfect you in the entire world, the best you of all time. No one else can do exactly what you’ve been made to do. What if God means for you to be the person who finds a cure for cancer or writes the next great American novel and you don’t do it? You’re robbing the world of the incredible gift you have and are. As author and pastor, John Piper puts it, “The world doesn’t need more cool, hip, culturally savvy, irrelevant copies of itself.” Stop trying to be something you aren’t and embrace the fearfully and wonderfully made person that God wants and needs you to be.

QUESTION 1. When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up? As you’ve grown older what is it now? The cool kid? The smart one? The popular party animal?
QUESTION 2. Are you scared of being yourself because others might not accept you?
CHALLENGE: Stop being someone you aren’t and accept who it is you have been created to be. God is going to use you to do incredible things for his kingdom.
Matt George 1

IDENTITY -MATT GEORGE

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MATT GEORGE

James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

We have all been gifted with something that makes our heart beat faster and that drives us. Some have discovered this gift and others are still discovering it. Some of us may think we have already found what we are truly gifted in, and maybe you have, but sometimes God has something else for you that is totally different from what you ever could imagine. For example, we may think we’re meant for the limelight when in reality our true gifts will shine all the brighter once we move behind the scenes. We simply have to give up the tight grips we have on our lives and give them to God.

You are the only person in the world with your particular gift in your particular area with your particular social group. To not walk in your gifting is to rob the world of a spectacular gift. Maybe you are thinking that God forgot to give you one, that maybe he screwed up. That is a lie. Every follower of Jesus has been specially equipped to better God’s kingdom in his or her own unique way. Ask God to reveal your gifts to you and he will. Then walk in boldness and joy knowing that you are exactly where you need to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.

QUESTION 1. What are you gifted in? Make a list.
QUESTION 2. All gifts are from God, but what gifts do you think you have that you aren’t walking in yet?
CHALLENGE: You were made for something special. Find your gift and then ask yourself each and every day, “How can I use this gift to help others and better God’s kingdom?”
jasmine simpson 2

IDENTITY -JASMINE SIMPSON

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JASMINE SIMPSON

Psalm 139:13-14

For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well.

I don’t care who you are; at some point in your life you have felt out of place or unworthy. Maybe you are on a soccer team and everyone else seems so much better than you. Maybe you sit by yourself at lunch because you don’t know what table you fit in at. Or maybe you are in a ministry job[position?] and you feel unworthy because everyone else seems so much more holy than you. You are not alone in your feelings of not being good enough; we all deal with them.

But here is some beautiful truth for you, straight from the word of God. No matter how bad you may fail, or don’t fit in, or feel unworthy, God calls you fearfully and wonderfully made. Stop whatever you are doing and think about this for a minute. The God who spoke the planets into existence also spoke you into existence, and he calls you wonderful. His hands were the ones who formed you, every single part of what makes you distinctly you.

God knew when he made us we would be messy and we would make poor decisions, but he still, even amidst that, calls us perfect. The thought of this gives me so much peace when I’m feeling alone or not good enough. Whose opinion of you on this earth (what mortal and flawed person) can compare to the opinion of God

QUESTION 1. Do you place a high importance on what others think about you? Why is it so important?
QUESTION 2. Be honest: How high of an importance do you place on God’s opinion of you?
CHALLENGE: Know you are worthy because you are made in the image of God, knit together by him, perfectly and wonderfully made. No other opinion comes close.
Luke cook 1

IDENTITY -LUKE COOK

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LUKE COOK

John 15:15

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

We spend a lot of time in the pursuit of perfection. We practice that twelve string guitar for hours every day so we can be the next musical virtuoso. We work out day and night so we can be the next big football star. Spending time on bettering and pushing yourself is not bad at all. It’s actually great to have that kind of drive, but it becomes a problem when that pursuit becomes all consuming. And a lot of the time pursuit of perfection can spill over into our relationship with God.

It can happen when we think that the only way God will love us or hear our prayers is if we are perfect. Well guess what? You will never be perfect in God’s eyes no matter how hard you try. But that’s okay because God doesn’t call us to be perfect; he calls us to be his sons and daughters. He knew us before we were even born (Ps. 139:13) and he has already created us perfectly despite our worldly imperfections. The quest for perfection will always leave you wanting to achieve more and more and will continually leave you feeling unfulfilled. But God welcomes you just as you are—his child.

QUESTION 1. Do you find it hard to believe God accepts you when you feel like you are continually disappointing him?
QUESTION 2. Do you live like a son or daughter of God or like a servant who must keep working to make his master happy?
CHALLENGE: Accept that you will fail at times and then accept that you are the child of a God who loves you despite that and welcomes you just as you are.
natalie barentson 1

IDENTITY -NATALIE BARENTSON

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NATALIE BARENTSON

Genesis 1: 27 & 31

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good….

“You are handcrafted.” Sometimes I have a really hard time believing that this can be true. How can I, with all my flaws and mistakes, be anyone’s handcrafted masterpiece? If anything, maybe I am just the handcrafted scribblings of a toddler as they learn to maneuver a crayon across the paper for the first time. With all of my shortcomings, how can I be anyone’s joy-filled creation? Let alone the God of the Universe’s?!

Have you ever felt this way? Do you ever feel like you don’t quite measure up? I get that. As I wrestled with these thoughts, God began to show me that we can take him at his word. What He says is true. What He promises is sure. So, if that is the case, then you must be more than you think you are.

To the God who spoke the world into motion, you are worthy. To Him, you are loved. You are chosen, beautifully designed; you serve a significant purpose. To the very same God who created humankind with his own hands, you are delightful. You are forgiven. You are a masterpiece. You are not defined by this world because your Creator gave you a purpose that cannot be contained by this world. You are His handcrafted, not mistaken nor forsaken, masterpiece.

QUESTION 1. What words used above to describe you do you have a hard time believing?
QUESTION 2. How have you allowed your identity to be shaped?
CHALLENGE: Write down three words that God uses to describe you, somewhere where you can see it daily.
lauren ankenman 2

IDENTITY -LAUREN ANKENMAN

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LAUREN ANKENMAN

Matthew 11:28-29

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives.”

This verse doesn’t say “Come to me between 5 and 7a.m. and I will give you rest.” For that, I am grateful because I love sleep! There is no time table in which we must come to God in order for him to love us more. God cares more about the position of your heart and mind towards him than anything else when we come. So often we can get caught up in trying to do everything right so we can be godly. However, that isn’t why God wants us to spend time with him.

The truth is, God knows what we need and he knows how to give it to us. That’s why He calls us to come near to Him. He doesn’t tell us to come to Him because He wants to burden us with another item on our daily checklist. He tells us to come to Him because He wants to provide all that we need to make it through each day. What He has to offer us is so much greater than we can imagine. He isn’t just talking about physical rest for our bodies; He wants to offer us a rest that truly satisfies every part of our lives. He knows what you need, so come to Him and let Him provide for you!

QUESTION 1. How do you draw near to God? What difference does it make when you come to Him?
QUESTION 2. What is your attitude toward God when you do come to him?
CHALLENGE: Come to Jesus just the way you are. Let Him fill your needs instead of trying to get them met elsewhere.
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KNOW WHO YOU ARE -ALISON PRAISEWATER

KNOW WHO YOU ARE

ALISON PRAISEWATER

We are surrounded in this world by lies and ugliness. But God’s word, it’s the one truth we have. The Bible is full of God’s promises and hopes for us. It tells us how to navigate this world, how to live our lives. Mostly, it shows us who we are in Christ. It gives us our identity as His beloved children, chosen by Him. So, that feeling of not quite knowing who I was, it started to disappear. I realized exactly who I was; it was written in the pages of the Bible.

I began to carry my Bible everywhere. I started to read it when I was waiting for someone. I would sit down and open it up and read wherever I was. I purposely started to show up places early so that I would get that time to read. I liked that so much that then I started to go out with the sole intent of reading my Bible. I would go to Starbucks, just me and my Bible, and sit there reading. I was finally having real quiet time with God, and it was changing my life.

QUESTION 1. How often do you read your Bible?
QUESTION 2. The Bible is an amazing book that helps us understand who we are in Christ. Do you know who you are as a Christian, and what that means for you?
CHALLENGE: If you aren’t reading your Bible, Alison says that you’re walking around like a person who doesn’t even know their own reflection in the mirror. So here’s our challenge for you, for one week, bring your Bible with you everywhere you go. And whenever you have a moment of downtime, open it up. Do this everyday and we promise it will transform your life.
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MY STORY -NICK COCALIS

MY STORY

NICK COCALIS

It’s almost noon on Sunday morning, and a house of college people wake up from a night of bar hopping and parties. Conversations of what had happened on the night before started up. Then, in a matter of moments, one of the girls started a line of questions that changed my life. “Nick, did you go somewhere this morning?” “Yes” I said, “I had to sneak out to church”. “ Oh wow, you go to church?” she said. Just then one of my best friends jumped in “Nick is the best guy ever! He runs mission trips and takes high school students all over the place on these trips.” In that moment I just kept thinking “shut up”. I could tell the conversation didn’t sit well with the friend in the corner of the room, either. She lay back down with a confused look on her face. About one minute later she sat back up and looked me in the eye. “Wait, Nick, you’re a Christian?” “Yeah, yeah I’m a Christian” I managed to murmur out. And then silence…10, 20, 30 seconds … and she sat up one more time with a look on her face that I will never forget. “Man,” she said, “you are the last person I would have thought was a Christian.”

QUESTION 1. Is your lifestyle in sync with your faith in Christ?
QUESTION 2. Would people know you’re a Christian when you’re outside of the church?
CHALLENGE: 1 Peter 1:15 Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in ALL that you do. It hit me right there, that being a Christian isn’t about church on Sunday. It’s not about mission trips. It’s not about calling yourself a Christian. It’s about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and living like him in ALL that you do.