Tag Archives: God

Questions, Christians, and 50 Shades of Grey

questions by Stuart MilesI’m not going to see 50 Shades of Grey. I think that, if you’ve read my testimony and followed my blog, you know that for me to see that would be incredibly hypocritical. I did not read the books, and I am not following the hype. But I am on social media, and I know people are excited about it—even many Christians. And I don’t understand that. I have been reading comments on social media from Christians who are going to see the movie, and trying to understand their reasons for doing so. In response, bear with me as I ask some questions to get us thinking—and praying.

Some Christians have claimed that it is a redemptive love story—because Christian Grey comes from a very dark past, and eventually, this young lady saves him from that dark past. I understand redemption, because the best redemptive love story can be found in the Bible—and because I have lived through redemption myself. I was very lost in a world of porn and addiction to sexual promiscuity, so I do somewhat understand that about Christian Grey. But my question is this: does a love story of redemption need to include lewd and graphic sexual content to tell the story? In other words, do you need to see a video of my sexual escapades in order for me to tell my story of redemption? Of course not. If I posted a video of myself having sex with someone as part of my story here, Christians would RIGHTLY be enraged. But some of these same Christians will go into a movie theater and watch lewd sexual situations in this movie because “it is part of the characters’ redemptive love story.” Both situations are pornography. One is more acceptable by Christians. My brothers, this should not be so.

The other aspect to the “redemptive love story” claim is the idea of trying to present darkness as light. I have done this a lot in the past to justify my decision to do something I know is not increasing my Christlikeness. But I am reminded of a few things from God’s Word. First, the devil presents lies as truth and darkness as light. In Genesis 3, that is exactly how he deceived Adam and Eve. Even today, he continues as the great deceiver who packages some aspect of the light (it’s a redemptive love story) around darkness (it’s also full of sexual deviance and mistreatment). He is, of course, the father of lies. And the Bible is very clear that Satan and his servants disguise themselves as angels of light and servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14). So my question is this: have you been fooled into believing that this movie’s darkness is light?

I have also seen many Christians who will see this movie claim, “you can’t judge me,” “don’t judge me,” or “only God can judge me.” Interestingly enough, Matthew 7:1 is American Christianity’s favorite Bible verse to quote. American Christians, in my opinion, don’t believe they should be held accountable for the choices they make. And that is simply not true. To judge is to hand down the verdict as to whether or not you are guilty and I give you a sentence based on your guilt. And it’s true—only God can do that. But when there’s a standard or a law that you obviously don’t live up to, then I can and should point that out and lovingly correct you. Paul even gave us the how-to guide for that in Galatians (6:1, and chapter 2 when he lived it out). In fact, most of Paul’s letters were written to point out blatant sin in the church—but Paul was not God, so should we disregard most of the New Testament? Of course not! As fellow believers, we do indeed have not only the right but the responsibility to lovingly hold each other accountable for our sins, including impurity, lewdness, pornography, and fornication—all things represented in the movie 50 Shades of Grey. And that’s why we need to think before we say, “don’t judge me.” But my question is: would you even need to say “don’t judge me” if you weren’t doing something that you knew was not in line with Scripture?

I can’t tell anyone what choice to make, but I can tell those who claim to be believers what the Bible says. It says to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), to think on pure things, to be pure as God is pure. We don’t do these things because we are prudes, we do them because we want to please God with our actions and our thoughts. We do them because our example, Jesus Christ, would. God’s will for every believer is simple: Christlikeness (see Genesis through Revelation). So my question is: how does seeing this movie contribute to your Christlikeness? Because that is the question we should be asking ourselves—not just about this movie, but about everything we say and do.

I pray that Christians will begin to stand up for Jesus Christ and the Holy Word, not Christian Grey and Hollywood.

Read more awesome coverage about reasons to skip 50 Shades of Grey here, here, and here, or check out an awesome book about Christian women and our awesome sexuality “Pulling Back the Shades” by Dannah Gresh here.

Advertisements

My First Love

Success. Everyone wants to tell you how to get it. In the business world, companies that made it big want to tell you how to succeed—even if they are Christian. Recently, I have been struggling with the idea of success. A few months ago, I was doing all the things that everyone told me to do to be successful: I was doing my social media posts, I was writing blog posts, I was talking to people about my business, I was scheduling events. I had a business plan for 2015, a brand new calendar to write my new business stuff in, and a head full of steam. I was “hustling,” as a friend of mine and I started saying about ourselves.

love sky by winnond

image courtesy of winnond / freedigitalphotos.net

 

I planned a brief vacation with my mom, with full intent of “getting back to hustling” when I returned. I couldn’t work on vacation—I was in another country and wanted to be present with my mother. So I put away my cell phone, my blogging, and all the nice new habits I had acquired. When I returned, I picked up my cell phone…and some weird virus that left me mostly incapacitated for the month of November. Then my father died in early December, and I spent the rest of that month mourning and recuperating. I realized that I was exhausted. I had been doing a lot. But save for one week in November, I had forgotten how to BE.

The seven letters to the churches in Revelation are one of many lists of seven in the Bible that correspond to the seven spiritual gifts in Romans 6. As a prophet spiritual gift, the first of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2:1-6 has always beckoned to me. I was recalling this over the holidays, thinking about where I am and what it means. Here’s what it says:

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2-5)

More than ever, this passage spoke to me. Of course God knows my deeds and my toil and my perseverance—that I have endured for His name’s sake and have not grown weary. But soon after my father’s death, I realized I had left my first love. Was I spending time in prayer? Sure. But I was spending more time “doing” God’s work than I was “being” with Him. For the same reason that I put away my cell phone while I was on vacation to be with my mom, God wanted me to put away these deeds and get back to my first love—being with Him.

So what does that mean? Does that mean PPG Ministries is no more? Of course not! But it means that I have to give up some of the “comforts” in my business for now, like posting on social media. I’m trading those things in for quality time at the feet of my Master. I want PPG Ministries to be filled with God, not with me. My business really belongs to God, anyway—so I know I can trust Him with it. And I’m finding that this is its own purity challenge—the challenge to bring holiness into all areas of my life, not just my sexuality.

Maybe you’re out there, having forgotten your first love, and you need to hit the reset button. Maybe God is asking you to give something back to Him so that He can refine and purify it and you, and make you both better than you ever knew. My challenge to you today is this: will you let Him? Will you trust God enough to give back to Him what is already His? If so, join me on this journey of purification. I don’t know where it’s going to lead, but I do know that God’s plans for us are for good and not evil, to prosper us and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). And as further proof of that, here’s how that passage in Revelation ends:

To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

So are you ready for this year? Or more importantly, are you ready for this God? Ready or not, here He comes. 🙂

Good Grief

crying doll by Theeradech Sanin

image courtesy of Theeradech Sanin / freedigitalphotos.net

My father died today. I don’t think that there’s three points that I can give you in a blog format to help you learn more about yourself through the death of my parent. So I’m just going to unjumble my thoughts and let them flow here, and I pray that God will bless you in some way as you read.

If you’ve read my testimony, you know that I didn’t have a great relationship with my dad. Celebrate Recovery helped me do a lot of grieving and releasing, but especially with my father. It was good to grieve the father I didn’t have, the father I always wanted…to let go of expectations and begin to accept the reality of who my father was. To release my feelings of rejection and revel in the acceptance of my heavenly Father. I continued to do that for the next five years, never really desiring a full-time relationship with him for many reasons. As more and more information about the man I called “Dad” has surfaced in recent weeks, I know that God has been protecting me by removing that desire from me. Instead, I have accepted him as the flawed, sinful man that he is and loved him from an appropriate distance. I am thankful that God indeed protected my heart and gave me the strength to set healthy boundaries.

A couple of things happened as I began to grieve a few weeks ago when I was alerted that my father was on his death bed. The first thing I noticed was that I couldn’t stop thinking about this one person with whom I had unfinished business. Death tends to bring out those unresolved situations in our lives, making us uneasy with leaving loose ends. Eventually I realized that what was on my mind was, “If I died today, is there anyone to whom I would need to make amends?” There was. I guess because my own father never realized the “error” of his ways and never sought to make amends with his children, I wanted to break that cycle. I could say “I’m sorry” and I could make amends. I wanted to start a new kind of cycle—one of grace and pure love modeled after Christ. And while I had been concerned because there had been no one to talk to about my situation (other than God), I eventually realized that I didn’t need to talk to someone else about it. I needed to talk to the offended party. So I sent an e-mail today. It was hard, and I cried more over that e-mail than I have cried for my deceased father. But I felt a burden lift once I pressed “send.” Life is too short for unfinished business, unforgiveness, and loose ends.

Second, I realized that I wasn’t carrying any burden towards my father. Finding out a few really terrible things about him in the last few days, I thought I would feel heavier about things. When I confessed his deplorable acts to a friend, she assured me that who my father was is not who I am. I reassured her confidently that I didn’t feel that anyway—and it was true. I felt disconnected from that because I had forgiven him. But I also felt disconnected from that because my identity is not in my earthly father anymore. I have secured my identity as a princess of the King and a crazy but amazing pushy prophet girl, and because of that, there is no burden for being my earthly father’s daughter. Whatever heinous acts my father may have committed, they do not belong to me…I have been cleansed and forgiven. I am my Father’s child.

Third, I realized the significance of sexual sin in my generational history. Numbers 14:18 says, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’” I know that my grandfather and father’s iniquities have visited the generations below them and through me, and that is important for me to accept and understand in my continual quest for purity. Indeed, though I am my Father’s child, I now have some idea as to why I have struggled so mightily in the area of sexual purity. However, what grace and love the Father lavishes on us, that I can not only call myself His child but that I can receive forgiveness and cleansing from the sins of my forefathers. I am ready to break the cycle and bring forth a generation of purity. My tears have not been wasted; they have been collected by a loving Daddy who intends to use them to cleanse future generations as they walk in their PureID™. What joy that brings me!

So I stand here not crying, but instead praising! Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow, and I thank You, Jesus, for the opportunity to experience this blessed, good grief. Amen!

Spiritually Healthy Habits: Prayer

spirit health by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

“Pray continuously.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

When I was younger, this verse scared me to death. My mother would get up every morning and pray for an hour or so, and she would encourage me to do the same. I just couldn’t sit still that long, even as an adult. Plus, I wasn’t sure I could come up with enough words to say to God for a whole hour! And praying continuously throughout my day…well, I just didn’t think I could do that, either. Then one day recently, I realized that as I was going through my day, I was often stopping to whisper prayers to God, talking to Him while I was in the car or just doing things around the house, and listening for His still, small voice. And then it dawned on me: I had actually learned how to pray continuously.

Prayer is not meant to scare us, prayer is meant to invite us into deeper relationship with our God. If you want to be spiritually healthy, you must talk to the Giver of spiritual health! And here are three thoughts about prayer that have helped me to learn to pray continuously:

  • Prayer is talking to your Papa. Sometimes, my prayers are different, but mostly, I come to God as a little girl wanting to talk to her Papa. I think of when I want to have my mom’s undivided attention and I climb into her lap—yes, still, as a 37-year-old woman, I do that! I also do that in my head when I’m praying. I imagine that I’m climbing up into God’s lap and talking to Him about everything—my hopes, my fears, my failures, my successes. I confess, and I receive forgiveness there. I express my gratitude and I humble myself like a child. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Praying to my Papa in this way is how I live out this verse.
  • Prayer is talking to your Friend. Sometimes we think of God as a taskmaster waiting to punish us when we do something wrong. But Jesus tells us something different in God’s Word. In John 15:15, Jesus said, “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” A taskmaster has slaves, but we are not slaves—we are friends of God. Jesus confided in us what the Lord told Him, so we can be confident in talking to Him as a friend would. And just like our earthly friends, God can handle our anger and our doubt, He can share in our hurts, and He can laugh with us and enjoy our sense of humor. Even better, God is the greatest Friend who will never let us down!
  • Prayer is talking to your Creator. We have to remember that God is not only our Papa and our Friend, but He is also our Creator—and the Creator of the entire universe. I don’t call Him my “homie” but I bow before Him. I talk to Him as my Abba Papa and Friend, but I don’t disrespect Him or treat Him as a human being—because He is not! In Psalm 50:15, the Lord says, “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” God can deliver me from evil, defeat darkness, help me be an overcomer, and speak things into existence. He can bless me beyond my wildest dreams and answer every one of my prayers, if it is in His will. As such, I will regard Him with awe and respect, because He deserves it.

Knowing these three things about prayer has made it easier for me to pray continually throughout my days. Every situation I encounter can be filtered to my Papa, my Friend, and/or my Creator, so I can go to the Throne before I go to the phone (Joyce Meyer). If you want to be spiritually healthy, try increasing your prayer life and communicating continuously with the God who will be there for you in every possible way!

Spiritually Healthy Habits: Fasting

spirit health by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

“I just can’t fast from food!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this—and before last year, it was all coming from my own mouth! So I tried to fast from other things: Internet, Facebook, television, hockey, gossip, judging others…you name it, when my church (or some other church) did a fast, I was all over it. However, I never felt spiritually better afterward…I always just felt like it was 21 days without television or hockey or whatever. And I couldn’t wait to get back to whatever I fasted from. Then last summer, I decided to do a real fast—from food. So I did a Daniel Fast, a modified fast that allows you to have certain foods but give up anything that is considered “choice food” (Daniel 10:2-3).  Quite honestly, it meant a lot of cooking and discipline on my part, but I completed it—and loved it.

Fasting is a great spiritually healthy habit to practice for those who are ready to try it. Everyone knows that fasting is about denying yourself, but here are three other things that fasting is about:

  • Fasting is about God. Because the definition of fasting talks about denying ourselves, we may think fasting is about us! But it’s not—fasting is about the Lord. We don’t fast so that we can say, “Hey, look at me! I’m so spiritual!” We fast so that God can say, “Hey, look at Me!” And for once, we can hear Him clearly without the distractions that crowd out His voice. Some pray every time they feel a hunger pang; others spend extra time in prayer. For me, it is a combination of both while really designating time to hear the Lord. I try to make my fast about God—how He can increase in my life, how to be more like Christ, how to decrease myself. I don’t focus on the lack of food—but instead on every Word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
  • Fasting is about FOOD. The very definition of fasting means to abstain from food. That’s the real issue with why people don’t fast these days, isn’t it? Because food is everything to us—especially to those of us in first world countries. We fight about food, we watch TV shows about food, and 50% of commercials are about food. Food is an important commodity for all of us, which makes it extremely difficult to give up—even in small portions. And yet at the same time, it is one of the things we waste the most. But to follow God, He asks us to surrender those things that are most important to us—and that includes food. And while it is not wrong to fast from news or gossip or judging others, Jesus set the example for us with fasting: He went without all of those things AND food.
  • Fasting is about self-control. Another excuse I hear about fasting is people say they just don’t “have the discipline to fast.” This simply means they lack motivation to just do it! Once during a church-wide fast, a friend told me that he was fasting from breakfast until midnight every day, but noted he would just stay up until midnight every day so that he could eat. He admitted this was defeating the purpose of the fast, but he couldn’t exercise the self-control to go to bed hungry. I know how hard this is! But Galatians 5:23 lists one of the fruits of the Spirit as self-control, and the verses following that note that we are to crucify the desires of the flesh. These desires include more than just lust and envy, but greed for everything—including food. How much self-control do you have when it comes to food?

Fasting from food is an important spiritual discipline that allows us to decrease so that God can increase in our lives. To be spiritually healthy people, we should fast as an act of self-control and worship that allows God to speak into our lives and make us more like Christ. I challenge you to try fasting from food—and watch your spiritual health soar!

You can read my past series on fasting here, here, here, and here.

Spiritually Healthy Habits: Meeting Together

spirit health by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

A couple of years ago, I was disgruntled with church in general. I wasn’t mad at anyone, and I had just finished up an incredible Bible study in a neighboring town. However, I couldn’t really find a church where I felt comfortable, so I just stopped going. In the process, I also stopped hanging out with my Christian friends. I started hanging with a non-Christian coworker and doing things that I knew weren’t right: drinking more, hanging with her friends while ignoring mine, flirting with married men. I was in a downward spiral. And then, before I knew it, I was dating a married man. Luckily, I told one of my Christian friends what I was doing (without remorse, sadly), and she gathered some prayer warriors to intercede for me. Within a couple of months, the relationship had fallen apart and I was back in church, repentant.

Meeting together with other Christians is an important piece to being spiritually healthy! Here are three benefits of consistently meeting together with other Christians:

  • Meeting together with other Christians keeps us honest. It’s so important to meet with other Christians so that honesty remains an integral part of our lives. Other Christians can be a spiritual thermostat in the midst of your thermometer moments. That simply means that when your feelings or emotions are rising or plummeting (thermometer), other Christians who know the Word can keep you grounded (thermostat). Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) tried to hide their sin, but the truth eventually came to light because they were in fellowship with other believers. In my case, had I been hanging out with my Christian friends during that time, they would have told me from the beginning to stop flirting with and hanging around with married men. They would have been praying for me specifically for purity in all areas. They would have reminded me of God’s truths amidst the world’s lies.
  • Meeting together with other Christians makes us more Christ-like. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Real friends will sharpen you. I found that I was dulling down as a Christian when I spent time with my non-Christian friend. I didn’t feel challenged to be a better Christian; in fact, I hardly ever spoke about God around her. I had to ask myself if I was being a good friend to her, because I wasn’t even challenging her beliefs or ideas. However, in contrast, when I hang around with my Christian friends, most of the time, I am challenged by them in all my attitudes and actions. They are not asking me to be more like them, they are challenging me to be more like Jesus. And as a Christian, nothing makes me better than being more like Jesus in every way.
  • Meeting together with other Christians gives us encouragement. We all need encouragement in our lives, and for Christians, our encouragement comes from many places—but rarely does it come from the world. Hebrews 10:25 says that we should “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another.” As the world gets crazier, we need to be reminded and encouraged of many things: Jesus’ peace, the eventual return of the Savior, the end of suffering, a final victory. In addition, sometimes we simply need encouragement about our true purpose and calling and how our current situations are defining that. While the world can encourage us in some ways, our Christian brothers and sisters can reassure us in all of those ways—because they know Jesus. Christians can inspire each other because the Truth has already set us free.

If you are out of Christian fellowship right now, I’d like to urge you to return to your church or small group. There’s nothing the devil loves more than to separate us from God, and one way he does that is by separating us from each other. You can begin practicing spiritually healthy habits, but you can’t do it alone—so start by meeting together with some Christians this week!

Porn—When You Don’t Get It

confusion by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

“How does she not get it?” I had a horrible fight with my mother today, and this is the question running through my mind. The long and short of it is that my uncle, who recently had a massive stroke and is requiring 24-hour care from my mom and sister, has been watching pornography non-stop on his computer for the past few weeks. Now, this is the same uncle who carelessly introduced me to pornography more than 25 years ago, so while not a surprise, it is unacceptable that he would do this in my mother’s house, where an eight-year-old girl lives 80% of the time. Naturally, considering my recovery, my disdain for pornography, and my ministry, I am furious, and I called and unleashed said fury on my mother. I made her cry in my passionate attempt to let her know she needed to take a stand for righteousness—something she has not done well in the past (she’s an S personality/servant gift to my D personality/prophet gift). But the call did not end well, and now I’m upset—because she doesn’t seem to understand.

If you’ve suffered from a pornography addiction, and you feel like people just don’t “get it” when it comes to porn, here’s a few things to remember:

  • People may not understand your pain. My mother did not notice how passionate and indignant I got when I first heard about the pornography debacle with my uncle. She is clueless about how my sister feels about him watching porn behind her as they sit in the living room. In addition, it seems my mom knows nothing about the effects of pornography on a person’s mind. I ask myself, “How can my mom not know, when I am so very open with everyone about my past addiction, when my own ministry seeks to end pornography?” I also wondered how she could be so calm and nonchalant about a situation that clearly has upset my sister and me. I felt like Jesus with the disciples—“Are you still so dull?” (Matt. 15:16). How come you don’t understand yet? Today’s conversation reminded me that she hasn’t suffered through this addiction. She barely even spoke about sex with me growing up. So of course she doesn’t “get it.” There are always going to be people who don’t understand some circumstance you’ve been through—or don’t want to admit they understand. The key is knowing that you have to…
  • Keep talking anyway. The more you talk about the issues you’ve had with porn, the more freedom you get. When you keep the truth hidden deep within yourself and you don’t address it with or acknowledge it to others, you remain a slave to your addiction. So keep talking! Perhaps my problem is that I have not talked with my mom enough about the pain that pornography caused in my life. Today, I told her that I yelled at her because I didn’t feel she ever thought this was important or urgent. This lack of urgency on her part made me feel unprotected, and I was afraid she was going to not protect the eight-year old that now lives with them. After our fight, I texted her a lengthy set of messages that included an apology and this text: “I love you. What I do not love is how pornography stole my childhood, my innocence, my freedom, my ability to have normal, loving relationships with the opposite sex.” I know that I have told my mom before about porn’s effects on me. But I said it again because hopefully one day she will gain some understanding about the addiction from which I’m still healing.

The Bible says, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.” Recovery from porn is a lifelong process, and you may have to help others get understanding about it from time to time. You may go about it the wrong way, or you may do it perfectly: the point is to just keep talking, so you and others can be blessed in the process!

DISC and Spiritual Gifts: So Happy Together

DISC-logo-2014

image courtesy of Christian Coach Institute

My friend is a mercy gift—loving and kind, compassionate and empathetic to everyone. She can’t be around me when I’m angry because she will actually “absorb” my feelings. She is compassionate and giving, loyal to the nth degree. However, she is also very dominant and direct, especially in leadership roles. She has no problems telling you what to do or taking charge of situations, especially if the leadership is questionable. It seems she is crazy sometimes, though, because her primary concern is that everyone feels loved and is shown compassion, yet she can be very bossy and demanding. When you meet her, you may wonder what’s going on inside her—the conflict of her driving personality combined with her gentle, mercy-gifted spirit. But she was fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the universe, who saw fit to give her these conflicting motivations.

What happens when DISC and spiritual gifts combine? Can the two work together to give us a better picture of ourselves and our Creator? Of course they can! And here’s what you need to know about DISC and spiritual gifts together:

  • DISC personality profiles focus on your natural motivations. These are the motivations that you were born with that have been shaped by your upbringing, your experiences, and your desires. My friend’s personality profile is a high D because her life and natural inclinations have been to be someone who direct and in control in her home life and her work life. A lawyer by profession, she is used to taking action in situations at work. As a single mother, she also must be the driving force in her children’s lives. Her high D personality has been strengthened over the years as through leadership positions both personally and professionally. When I’ve worked under her leadership, I’ve seen first-hand her motivation for challenge and directness. However, I also know there is more to her!
  • Spiritual gifts focus on supernatural motivations. While our Creator God gave you your personality as well, He also gave you spiritual motivations to do His will and bring glory and honor to His name. My friend above is a high D and a mercy gift who God made to bring comfort to the hurting. I love seeing her spiritual gift in action, as she weeps with those who weep and celebrates with those who celebrate. I know when she is acting on her supernatural inclinations, she is walking in the will of God very clearly. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” I watch this play out through my friend’s spiritual gift of mercy, and I know that God is pleased to be working in and through her.
  • DISC and spiritual gifts are better together. When you understand that you have not only natural but supernatural motivations, you see a bigger picture of yourself and the God Who created you. Why is this important? Because the more you know and understand God, the more you will know and understand yourself—and vice versa! When I think about my friend, I think about how imaginative God was when He gave her an oddly opposite combination of a high D personality with a mercy spiritual gift. But Jesus also embodied that same of “odd” pairing—mostly because he was all four personality types and all seven spiritual gifts! This also makes Jesus a great mirror to which we can compare our personality types as well as our spiritual gifts. And DISC and spiritual gifts are definitely better together!

As we close this series on DISC, I hope you’ve learned a little more about yourself and the individuality that God has blessed you with through your personality (and your spiritual gifts). If you would like to know more about DISC and/or spiritual gifts, please feel free to contact me—I would love to talk to you about your uniqueness and how it can help make you a better leader, friend, spouse, and family member—because knowing yourself is the best thing you can give to the world!

DISC: Silent but Steady

DISC-logo-2014

image courtesy of Christian Coach Institute

She seemed to be very shy until you got to know her. But once I got to know her—and I did, she was quite talkative and open with me. She was a steady support to me, always offering to help in whatever way she possible could. She even would help in the sweetest ways I could think of—offering to do things for me that no one else would. She was constantly thinking of my feelings and tried not to hurt me, even if it meant she was hurt instead. In addition, she was the most reliable person of my group—even if she was working behind the scenes, you eventually knew she was there because of her loyalty and dependability. So who is she? She has many names—because she is every S I’ve ever known and worked with!

High S’s are team players who want to keep peace and stability in group settings, even if it is to their own personal detriment. Though your S’s may not be loud and dominant like your D’s or the center of attention like your I’s, the S’s are balanced and secure, providing much needed stability to every group dynamic. And here are a few important things to remember about the high S personality profile:

  • High S’s work best in a stable, secure environment…My former high S coworker had been in our office for 10 years—since she was 17 years old! She had loved what she was doing, but most importantly, she knew the office and the job very well and was very comfortable in doing it. It was to our benefit that she provided everything for our office, and she did so with a smile every day. She took care of every need in the office and knew how to do everything, and often did so in the background. This is your typical S: always accomplishing what needs to be done without being asked while being your all-around team player.
  • …but they do not adapt well to change. My former coworker had not been through many changes in the office until around the time I started. However, I noticed that her normally pleasant demeanor became terse and threatening when office policies and procedures began changing. In addition, when she chose to take a new job, the pressure of making a change after ten years in our office weighed heavily on her. In response to the pressure, she became increasingly unpleasant in her interactions and took every interaction personally. It was a rough transition for everyone.
  • In conflict, S’s tend to give in—unless their family or close friends are being targeted. S’s are seen as extremely loyal to their family and close friends; they may not fight back when they are targeted personally, but if someone attacks their family, they will respond like a D! In other situations, they may remain quiet or make choices that will bring peace to the situation. Unlike the I’s, an S’s main goal is security, so he will do whatever is necessary to bring peace, even if it means their own personal comfort is challenged. Like I’s, S’s are people pleasers, so in conflict, S’s will seek the greater good of others before themselves. My former coworker tended to be quiet in situations where she did not agree with the action being taken at work. However, when it came to her family, she was adamant and direct in defending them at every turn.

S’s certainly are not silent—but they are great listeners who are more concerned about other people than tasks being accomplished. Like a car’s engine, they are an integral part of a working team, making sure that everything runs smoothly, even if they aren’t being seen and heard. When working with S’s, it’s important to remember to give them plenty of time to change but also to encourage them to embrace change as an opportunity for growth. It will help them as well as you!

How do you help the S’s in your life navigate change? 

The God Identity: Perseverance

Identity by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

If there’s one thing that I remember from having a porn/lust addiction, it was that during tough times, I had something to turn to—my addiction. Whenever I was feeling lonely or down, I could watch magazines or cable TV shows that would feed my “pleasure zone”—the receptors in my brain that released that oh-so-feel-good oxytocin. And if those things weren’t available (which they weren’t, after I restricted myself), it was fantasizing. I could easily lose myself in my thoughts, focusing on things that would make me happy, whether physical or emotional intimacy. By doing this, I would simply immerse myself in a world where I had no hardships until reality settled itself back down. Unfortunately, due to my hiding, my God identity trait of perseverance was severely underdeveloped.

Google defines perseverance as “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” Here are three things I am learning about persevering as God intends:

  • Perseverance should make us joyful. The porn identity told me that no one cared that I was suffering, so I should withdraw from everyone and focus on my addiction/fantasy life. I would also whine and cry through my suffering (I’m still working on this!) until it was over. But the Bible says that we should rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3)—one of the hardest things to learn. One of the ways I try to rejoice is by reminding myself that the devil is always going to attack those he feels are a threat to him, those who may have significance in the kingdom of God. So when things are going well for me, I have to ask—have I become complacent about my walk with God? Because Jesus did not say “if” you experience troubles in this world, he said “when!” So I should be joyful during difficulties, knowing that my suffering is normal and that God plans to use me in a great way—if I will just persevere!
  • Perseverance produces maturity. My porn addiction forced me to stay in what author Tim Challies calls pornolescence. This adolescent mindset made me believe that I could stay the way I was, keep doing the things I was doing, and still be godly and holy—and fulfill the God’s calling on my life. But truthfully, I was not growing in character, wisdom, or maturity in my walk with God. When tough times came, I was turning immediately to what would make me feel better, not what would make me BE better. But taking on the God identity means persevering and maturing in Christ. James 1:2 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Trials produce steadfastness—if we let them. And when perseverance takes full effect in us, we mature in Jesus.
  • Perseverance brings blessings. I feel like I missed out on a lot of blessings in my life because I didn’t choose to persevere through trials—I chose to hide. I feel this most in my relationships with others. Being a prophet gift who sees and knows truth within relationships is difficult; and when I am hurt, sometimes I want to hurt others or withdraw instead of pushing through the difficulties of talking things through with others. Because of this, I’ve missed the blessings of strengthening my relationships. But the Bible says I’ve missed even more than that! The Bible says that those who endure will receive what is promised (Hebrews 10:36). The promises of God are many and wonderful, and I can’t help but wonder what other promises I have missed because I have not worked on developing perseverance.

The great news is that I don’t have to miss any more promises and blessings! I can start developing perseverance today—and I have. In the midst of my current hardships, I have been choosing to focus my thoughts more on God. Better yet, I am choosing to persevere, even though life is challenging right now. But I take solace in knowing that if the trouble is big, then the reward will be even bigger—including maturity and growth in my most important relationship (with God) and the strength to face whatever is next!