How to Honor Someone Else’s Identity

Most of you remember the free ebook I gave to our subscribers as a Christmas present, Midget: A Fable of Giant Inner Healing. I plan to sell it later this year on Amazon and wanted you, our subscribers, to have it first for free. (It’s available on the downloads page; click the “Free Stuff” link above.)

A friend pointed out that “midget” is a pejorative term among little people. So I emailed the LPA (Little People of America) and asked them (1) if that was so, and (2) for suggestions about how to fix it. I said I’m not averse to changing the title (and the name of the main character), but would prefer to include a disclaimer with their approved wording.

Cuquis Robledo, the Public Relations Director of Little People of America, sent me a very timely and polite response. She congratulated me on the ebook and thanked me for reaching out to them. I believe they were sincerely touched that I cared enough to ask.

They suggested a title change and a disclaimer educating people against using the word “midget” at all, which they call the “m-word.” The LPA is trying to remove usage of the word from our vocabulary in general; for example, working with the USDA to rename certain food products. I confess I originally thought this was a little extreme, but then I actually listened to them. I listened to why from their point-of-view. Here is what I learned.

The m-word was used in the Freak Show era to de-humanize little people. “Come see the bearded-lady! Come see the elephant man! Come see the midgets!” I think little people have a right to be angry over the use of this de-humanizing word. Working in post-abortive recovery, I feel the same anger when pro-abortion advocates de-humanize a child as a “fetus” or as a “product of conception.”

When my dad grew up in Oklahoma, Brazil nuts were called “n-word toes”. They didn’t mean anything bad by it, and my dad was not a racist. It was just the thing’s name as they were taught. But I think it’s good that today we no longer use that de-humanizing word. I never realized the m-word was in the same category, but it is.

So this is not about political correctness gone mad. This is about respecting real people and their identity. It’s about sensitivity to not hurting other people unnecessarily. (Yes, there are times when we need to say painful truth, but this isn’t one of them.)

Even if the term doesn’t hurt me, and I don’t think it should hurt them, the fact that it does hurt them should be enough for me to not use it. Especially a word that was used in the past to de-humanize them.

While there’s certainly no constitutional right to avoid offense, we as Christians answer to a higher authority. We can voluntarily choose to follow the moral compass Jesus laid out for us in, among other places, 1 Corinthians 13 and Matthew 25 (especially the sheep and the goats parable). We can choose to walk in love.

So, all that to say, I’m voluntarily changing the name of the ebook. The question is, To what? This is the exciting and fun part! This is where you come in. I’m asking for your help. What’s a good name? Here’s some guidance to think about:

  • The words “midget” and “giant” are clear opposites. In changing the title, I’ll also have to change the subtitle, “A Fable of Giant Inner Healing.” Help me also find a word for the subtitle that’s the opposite of the new name.
  • I veto “Dwarf” right out-of-the-gate because, with the popularity of LOTR, people will expect something quite different from an ebook called “Dwarf”.
  • It should be mildly disrespectful or snarky. When the “tall ones” call the main character by the m-word, they aren’t complementing him. They are limiting him and his identity. It was meant to be a mild put-down.
  • Ideally, it would still fit on the cover in a similar way.

So what are your ideas? Leave them in the comments! Let’s have fun with this!

Why Your Negative Past Is Key to Your Awesome Future

Have you ever been paralyzed by your past? Have you ever wanted to do something that made your heart leap, but then dropped the idea because your past disqualified you? Maybe you were an addict or had an affair. Maybe it was an abortion or divorce. Fill in the blank for you.

The truth is, not only can God forgive and heal your past, but your past is actually key to God’s calling on your life. There are two important points here.

First, our past doesn’t derail God’s calling on our life.

But we can derail ourselves. Sometimes we sabotage our own destiny.

“I can’t write that book because I dropped out of college!”

“I can’t lead a marriage Bible study because I’m divorced!”

Sometimes our sabotage is subtle, unconscious, and just under the surface:

“I don’t deserve a healthy relationship after what I’ve done!”

But the good news is our past does not disqualify us from our future for one big reason. That’s not how God sees us. Check out this story.

Ok, so we’re in Damascus, first decade AD. A Christian named Ananias is out watering sheep, or doing whatever they did back then, when God shows up in a vision and calls him by name.

Ananias thinks this is awesome, until Jesus says, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He’s praying and I’ve given him a vision of you restoring his sight.”

Now Ananias thinks, “Snap, not so awesome.” He answers, “Lord, I saw this dude on Jerusalem Today. He was going house-to-house, dragging off Christians and throwing them in prison! And he’s come here to do the same thing! Look, I’ll show you on my iPhone. I’ve got it on YouTube right here.”

Ok, now this is where it gets interesting. Here’s what the Lord never said:

  • “Wow, I hadn’t heard that! I guess I picked the wrong guy. Must be a mix-up in the front office.”
  • “Thanks, Ananias, you really saved me from a big blooper there!”
  • “I sure am glad you’re on my team, Ananias! Way to be on the ball!”

Nope. Instead, the Lord gets a little testy with Ananias: “Go! Don’t you be talkin’ ‘bout my servant like that! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their Kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

Ok, I took some creative license here, but you can read the real story in Acts 8:3 and 9:1-19.

Here’s the thing: Everything Ananias said about Saul was completely true. And the Lord completely ignored it. Instead of arguing with Ananias over Earth’s truth about Saul, the Lord responded with Heaven’s truth about Saul. “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their Kings and before the people of Israel.”

Earth’s truth defines us by what we’ve done. But Heaven’s truth defines us by our calling, and that’s how God sees us. Heaven’s truth trumps earth’s truth every time, which is why your past doesn’t disqualify you. You are not what you’ve done.

When we agree with Heaven’s truth, admit the wrongs in our past, and turn from them so we don’t practice them anymore, like Saul did, that’s called repentance. Repentance totally blows our past away so it has no more power over us.

Second, our past is key to God’s calling on our life.

Back to Saul, soon to be the Apostle Paul. God knew the most challenging controversy in the first century church would be the confusion over whether Gentile converts had to be circumcised and keep the whole Law of Moses or not. There were some very persuasive Pharisees who became Christians and insisted they did. God felt otherwise, but who could stand up to the legalistic and opinionated Pharisees and logically make God’s point to the contrary? Certainly not some uneducated fishermen who could barely read or write!

What God needed was somebody who was himself circumcised on the eighth day, a Hebrew of Hebrews, somebody zealous for the Law who knew it as well as or better than the Pharisees causing all the trouble. If fact, God needed an ex-Pharisee.

Enter the Apostle Paul. He’s wasn’t just an ex-Pharisee, but an exceptional one. He studied under Gamaliel, the greatest Rabbi of that day. He excelled way beyond his peers and was extremely zealous (Galatians 1:14, Philippians 3:4-6). Paul could run circles around the other Pharisees with the Law. He was perfect. Paul’s past was key to God’s calling on his life.

After we repent and go through a season of healing, like Paul did, our past can be key to our future. We have authority over what we’ve been rescued from.

Dropped out of college? You’ve acquired real-life wisdom that makes you perfect to write that book.

Been divorced? You’re perfect to lead that marriage Bible study. You know where the traps and pitfalls are.

Had an affair or abortion? You’re perfect to lead others through the healing you’ve received. You know the pain they’re feeling.

And when you set others free from what you’ve been set free from, that’s revenge. Sweet revenge. Make the enemy sorry he ever messed with you! Make the devil need therapy! Woof!

So what’s Heaven’s truth about you? The Lord has a mission for you. Do you know what it is? It’s connected to your past. You are his chosen instrument for, what? Fill in the blank for you. What’s the passion that rises up in your heart when you think about it. Your past does not disqualify you from it. Your past is actually key to it.

Does this possibility make your heart leap? Does it resonate? Tell us your story in the comments or shoot us an email. And please share on social media if you think this would help or inspire someone else.

[Note: This post was inspired by Graham Cooke’s Living Your Truest Identity 3-CD audio series. I highly recommend it. This is not an affiliate link; we get no commission if you click the link or buy from Graham.]

You Are Not What You Do

For so many of us our identity is in what we do or what we’ve done. Especially men – what’s the first question we ask each other when we meet another man? “What do you do?” There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s safe small talk. But that’s not who we are.

God loves us based on our position not our accomplishments – our position as His son or daughter. Nothing we ever accomplish (good or bad) can ever change that. Nothing we do can make Him love us more or less than He does in this moment. In every moment. He’s that consistent.

We all say we believe that, but many of us secretly don’t. I say “secretly” because often it’s secret even from ourselves. We can test ourselves to see if we inwardly believe we are what we do, though. When we get mad at someone for disagreeing with us, when we take someone’s disagreement with what we said or did as a personal affront, it’s often because we believe that we are what we do. “If you attack what I do or say, you’re attacking me!” Do you see it?

You are special to God because you are you. You are valuable because you bear the image of God (see Genesis 1:26-27) whether you realize it or not. The trick is to understand who you really are, the unique person He made you to be.

Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” So before you were even born, before you had done anything good or bad, you were God’s wonderful work. And nothing we do can ever undo His work.

So let’s stop trying to be what we do. Let’s discover and walk in who we really are. Ask Him to take you on a journey of discovery.

Have you started this journey? What are you discovering? Do you identify with this? Tell us your story in the comments. What do you think?

The Power of “What If…?”

There’s one question feared by the enemy above all others. There’s one question that, if we dared to ask it and follow the answer, would disrupt the status quo more than anything else. “What if…?”

There’s something on our heart that God’s put there, but the distractions of life drown it out. The daily slog doesn’t leave us with any energy for our dreams. But what if we did follow that dream?

What if I wrote that book?

What if I reached out to that person?

What if I started my own business?

What if I dared to do what God’s put on my heart?

What if I took that risk that makes my heart sing?

What if I dared to believe who Jesus says I am?

What if I ……?

Fill in the blank for you. What is it in your heart that the daily slog is drowning out? What dreams make your heart leap? God put them there. Take the first step.

What if God’s calling you to that dream? If that were true and you were actually going to do it, what’s the first baby step you’d take in that direction? What if you took it? Take it.

We have to reach the point where we’re more afraid of not trying then we are of failing. – Jeff Goins

I reached that point and that’s why this blog exists and why I’ve written two print books (available here), and one free eBook (available here). I’m working on a couple more free eBooks that should come out by the end of the year. How about you? Have you taken the first baby step?

Does this resonate? What makes your heart sing? Are you pursuing it? Leave us a comment or shoot us an email. And please share (buttons below) if you think this would bless or inspire someone else.

Number Our Days

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Scripture tells us (Psalm 90:12) to number our days because our days are short here on earth. That sounds like a depressing thought, but I would like that thought to move us to action, not be a downer.

My mother-in-law passed away recently, and her passing came suddenly and unexpectedly. We had hoped for more time. My sadness for the lost time is short lived when I think of the wonderful life she lived. She exemplified the point of the message I hope to make.

This woman used the gifts and talents God gave her into her 80s. She never sat back and said, “I’m old. God doesn’t have anything more for me.” She was talented musically, as well as working with young children. Even in her 80s she ran a puppet ministry for children. Shirley had many talents and she used them into old age. She was also a very happy, fulfilled, contented person. I believe it’s because she was in sync with some very fundamental ways that God created her, and also you and me.

We are all created with gifts and talents. So many of us believe wrongly that we have nothing to offer, especially when we compare ourselves to the next person who appears to be so gifted. The truth is we ALL are gifted and designed with purpose. We are wired by God for work (sounds like a bad word, but it’s not); good works that he created in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Good clues to let us know what those gifts are… What things do I particularly enjoy? What makes my heart sing? Yes, what thing or things make me feel like I was created just for this? For me personally, I love to pray. Not like in a monastery pray, but intercession – where you get God’s heart for the situation. I love to pray and see God do wonderful, outrageous, cool things in people’s lives. I love to see God outdo himself and do the impossible. ‘Cause that’s when he gets the credit.

A couple things can trip us up, though. We can look at our friend and see the wonderful things about him/her and feel inferior. It’s easy to do. We can think we are flawed and that something is wrong with us when we compare to others. Would you believe, that other person is probably looking at you and thinking the same thing! The reality (based on God’s truth, see Psalm 139) is that YOU are special and that uniqueness is all good!

Another problem can be if there is wounding in our hearts. Our gifting and personality may be hidden. My passion is to see you and me walking in wholeness so we can be a gift to others around us.

Can I pray for you? Can I joyfully believe for and pray down the glorious things that God has for you? Please send me your thoughts (if they are personal, send me an email). I would love to encourage you today.

Created to Be

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Can we decide who we are? Can we decide who we want to be? Can we, like Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, decide our gender? Can we, like Rachel Dolezal, decide our race? Did God make a mistake when he made us the gender or race we were born as? Did God make a mistake when he hard-wired us with the personality we have? Or with the unique giftings we have, different from everyone else? Should we spend our lives wishing we were, and trying to be, someone else?

Is it ours to decide who we are? Or did God create us to be who we are? Let’s ask God’s opinion:

Psalm 139:13-14: You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (NIV)

Jeremiah 1:5a: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. (NIV)

God’s of the opinion that he’s our Creator, and that he got it right. We are not a mistake. We do not have the right to decide who we are, including our gender or our race. That’s rebellion against who he made us, and hence against God himself. Our life does not belong to us; it belongs to God. He made us, we did not make ourselves.

Some of us have been wounded by sin against us so deeply that we don’t know who we are. Sometimes it even confuses our gender identity or our racial identity. We wrongly think the sin against us was our fault, and we hate ourselves for it. Our shame has taught us that we are the evil done to us. If we could only remake ourselves into something different, then we’d be okay. Then we’d stop hurting.

But that’s a lie from the pit, and nothing could be further from the truth. Trying to remake ourselves, trying to be God in our own lives, only leaves us a hollow shell of a person. And the pain just gets worse.

Isaiah 45: 9-10: What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, “Stop, you’re doing it wrong!” Does the pot exclaim, “How clumsy can you be?” How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, “Why was I born?” or if it said to its mother, “Why did you make me this way?” (NLT)

Arguing with God about who he made us to be is a recipe for disaster. We can’t be God in our own lives because we’re not God. The truth is, we will only live a satisfied and fulfilled life if we live who God created us to be.

1 Corinthians 12:7: Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

And the truth is, the people around us desperately need us to be who God created us to be. By confusing our identity, the enemy has robbed them too.

This life is not a hollow, selfish journey of “who do I want to be today.” That horrible deception robs us of the richness of life. Instead, life is a wonderful, awe-filled journey of discovering who God made us to be.

Who did God make you to be? Is there pain in the way? God has healing for you. What part of your being do you not like? What part of yourself are you at war with? I’m not talking about bad habits or character flaws here. I’m talking about what part of you – your gender, your race, your height, your hard-wired personality traits, etc – don’t you like and why? Tell us in the comments or send us a private message from the “Contact Us” page. Let’s get some healing started.

Shame vs Guilt

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Guilt, or conviction, is what the Holy Spirit gives us, because he loves us, when we do something wrong. He’s correcting our sinful behavior because it (1) is self-destructive, and (2) interferes with our relationship with him. The message of godly guilt is, “I did something wrong.”

Shame, on the other hand, is not from God, but rather is Satan’s perversion of godly guilt. Shame is the belief that I am uniquely and fatally flawed. The message of shame is, “I am something wrong.” That’s the “flawed” part. In addition are the “uniquely” and “fatally” adjectives of shame:

  • “I am uniquely flawed.” No one is as bad as me. I am the only one with this problem.
  • “I am fatally flawed.” I can’t be fixed. My flawed-ness is permanent. The best I can do is hide it.

Shame holds so many Christians in prison, keeping them from living out their true identity, or often even knowing what it is. But each of shame’s three lies described above get smashed to pieces by the Word of God:

  • I’m not something wrong. I was made in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27). I have been made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and God loves me apart from what I do (Ephesians 1:3-14).
  • I’m not uniquely flawed; I’m not the only one like this. No temptation has seized me but that which is common to mankind (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • I am not fatally flawed. Jesus’ blood is bigger and stronger than any and all of my sin, and by his stripes I am healed (Isaiah 53:5, Romans 6:10, Hebrews 9:28, 1 Peter 3:18).

So who are you going to believe?

Have you been down this road? Does this strike a chord with you? Tell us in the comments.

You Are Not What You Do

HeadShot Dave 100x100

For so many of us our identity is in what we do or what we’ve done. But that’s not who we are. God loves us based on our position not our accomplishments – our position as His son or daughter. Nothing we ever accomplish (good or bad) can ever change that. Nothing we do can make Him love us more or less than He does in this moment. In every moment. He’s that consistent.

We all say we believe that, but many of us secretly don’t. I say “secretly” because often it’s secret even from ourselves. We can test ourselves to see if we inwardly believe we are what we do, though. When we get mad at someone for disagreeing with us, when we take someone’s disagreement with what we said or did as a personal affront, it’s often because we believe that we are what we do. “If you attack what I do or say, you’re attacking me!” Do you see it?

You are special to God because you are you. You are valuable because you bear the image of God (see Genesis 1:26-27) whether you realize it or not. The trick is to understand who you really are, the unique person He made you to be.

Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” So before you were even born and had done anything good or bad, you were God’s wonderful work. And nothing we do can ever undo His work.

So let’s stop trying to be what we do. Let’s discover and walk in who we really are. Ask Him to take you on a journey of discovery.

Have you started this journey? What are you discovering? Do you identify with this? Tell us your story in the comments. What do you think?

What’s True Vs The Truth

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So many of us are paralyzed by what’s true about us, but God’s Truth is really the thing that matters. There’s a difference.

When God called Ananias to go pray and restore Saul’s sight (see Acts 9:10), Ananias had a better idea. “Lord,” he answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name!” (Acts 9:13-14 NIV)

Everything Ananias said was absolutely true! And God completely ignored it. He didn’t respond, “Oops, gee you’re right, Ananias. What was I thinking? Being God, running the universe and all, got a lot on my plate, you know? We try to keep it quiet but sometimes one slips through the cracks. Hey, don’t tell anybody, ok? Anything I can bless for you while I’m here? Ok then, I’m out.”

God didn’t respond that way because Ananias was just speaking what was true about Saul (soon to be called Paul) – earth’s truth. No, God completely ignored earth’s truth responded with Heaven’s Truth. Because Heaven’s Truth is The Truth about us, not just the truth about what we’ve done. Heaven’s Truth trumps earth’s truth every time. You are not what you do.

What is true about you never disqualifies you from God’s Truth about you – who you really are in Him and His calling on your life and your mission for His kingdom. God responds in verses 15-16, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to _____” and God gives Saul’s mission.

Fill in the blank for you. What is God’s Truth about you? He has a mission for you; do you know what it is? You are his chosen instrument for…, what? That’s the Journey of Discovery you get to go on with Him. If you don’t know, start praying for that answer, start asking Him. Start the exciting Adventure!

Will you, like Bilbo the Hobbit, go on this Journey? Tell us in the comments.