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Entries in In Christ (5)


Who We Are and What We Have—In Christ

Sometimes we forget who we are. And forgetting can have sad, even devastating consequences.

When I realized who I am and what I have in Christ, it revolutionized my thinking. And the more I focus on these truths, the more freedom, peace and courage I have in my life and ministry.
There are three things I discovered in my study. In Christ, I have a new identity, absolute security, and God-given dignity.

Let me unpack those for you here:

I. In Christ, you have a New IDENTITY

II. In Christ, you have Absolute SECURITY

III. In Christ, you have God-given DIGNITY

I encourage you to study each point, and rejoice in who you are and what you have in Christ.

Which of these categories of who you are and what you have in Christ speaks to you today? How will you allow it to change or encourage you?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Lightstock.


Why Does Rejection Feel So Bad?

Kathy Collard Miller continually turns women to the Word of God to find truth to combat the lies they might believe. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she helps us focus in on the truth about rejections.

"Rejection," Kathy says, "hits like an atom bomb in our soul."

Boom! I (Dawn) have felt the powerful impact of rejection over my entire life. But I've learned over the years how to counter the reality of rejection and my brokenness because of it—with God's truth. That's something Kathy' espouses too.

Kathy continues . . .

Recently I felt sick in the depths of my stomach and my soul when I felt rejected.

Personal rejection can be described as someone refusing to accept what we offer them or they believe something bad about us.

We feel attacked and misunderstood. It can be a very hopeless feeling.

Here are three points for hope.

1.  We can understand where the feelings of rejection originated.

Rejection can bring up the lies we believed or felt about us in childhood. In that moment, we feel as if we’re back being that little girl or boy when we felt horrible, because we were attacked emotionally or physically.

It feels like all the resources and truth we know as adults about God are thrown out the window and we’re back to being voiceless, powerless, or without defense. The feelings are the same even though the situation is different.

In those moments, God offers hope through assuring us we aren’t the child any longer—thinking God isn’t there for us.

Instead, the truth is, God promises to be our refuge, help, protector, and give unconditional love.

We may not see evidence of that like we’d prefer, but by faith we can tell ourselves our loving Savior is “for” us and is defending us more than we realize.

2. Rejection most often comes because the other person feels threatened in some way.

Most of the time, she is reacting out of her own pain or even feeling rejected or worthless herself.

Even if we made a mistake or react in a hurtful way, she is responsible before God to offer grace because He has forgiven her for so much and He offers the strength she needs to make a wise choice.

But so many of us respond to and are responded to by others out of past wounds. Unfortunately, we take the person’s attack personally and blame ourselves.

Certainly we can take responsibility for our wrong choices but regardless, the other person is responsible for their response too. God wants to empower us to not take the attack personally but to offer an example of God’s grace of unconditional love. It is possible.

3. Rejection is the feeling of our worth and value being dismissed.

We believe the rejection is valid, because we believe the lie someone else believes: “She is worthless,” “He is stupid,” “She has nothing of worth to offer,” and many other lies.

But those are lies created by Satan against God’s beloved creation.

We must look primarily to God for who He says we are, not other people.

Not only were each of us created with God’s stamp of “good” at creation, even in our sin He demonstrates we are important and loved by Him through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross. That act determines we are never rejected or reject-able by God.

In the first chapter of Ephesians, He says the opposite of rejection.

He says we are:

  • loved,
  • forgiven,
  • blessed,
  • redeemed,
  • accepted,
  • adopted,
  • and many other truths of our identity.

Only believing those truths will counteract the atom bomb going off in our soul and minds when we feel rejected.

Indeed, our audience of One—God Himself—is still seeing us “in Christ” regardless of another person’s opinions.

Jesus demonstrated that many times.

  • Jesus refused to believe the rejection of His own family who believed Him crazy (Mark 3:21).
  • Jesus didn’t respond to the rejection of the Pharisees, His own disciples, and even the betrayal of Judas and Peter.

He knew His identity as God.

Even as a human, Jesus depended on who His Father said He was.

That’s our challenge also.

Which point will you focus on the next time you feel rejected?

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of more than 50 books including Choices of the Heart: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. She is a popular women's conference speaker both nationally and internationally. Visit Kathy lives in Southern California with her husband Larry (of 45+ years). They have two children and two grandchildren.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of comfreak at Pixabay.


4 Ways I'm Learning to Be a Light-Dweller

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson reminds us Jesus wants His followers to walk in the light. That's crucial in these dark days!

Some time ago, when San Diego had days of heavy rains—not common for us—I got a serious case of "The Glooms."

My nutritionist said I might actually have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). And that might be. Thinking back, I've never tolerated gloomy days well; I've always craved sunshine.

I remember one day in the midst of The Glooms when I got out of our car and suddenly, a ray of sunshine peeked through some clouds. I turned my head toward the sun and basked in its light.

Though I love the crispness of fall, I NEED the sunshine of summer.

I read about a little bird that enjoys perpetual summer. In the book God of Wonders, David A. Steen writes about the arctic tern, a mostly-white bird with a bright-red bill and tiny red legs and webbed feet. The arctic tern only weights about 3.5 ounces. When it's summer in the far north, they raise their young in Greenland or Iceland, and then when summer wanes, they take off for the Weddell Sea in Antarctica—some 12,000 miles south!

The actic tern "enjoys the most daylight hours of any creature on earth," Steen wrote. Flying in a looping, zig-zag pattern, they log the most miles during their annual migrations—24,000-30,000 miles each year, pole-to-pole-to-pole, round trip. They are so desperate for the summer sun.

Now reading that, I had a thought. I wonder how desperate I am for the light of the Son? How much do I desire to seek Him—the Light of the World? I get so caught up in seeking other things. But God has a better way.

The Lord wants me to live as a Light-Dweller.

Here are some things He's teaching me about that.

1. I'm Learning to Seek the Son.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

What we seek shows the state of our hearts—what we really crave. Sadly, I'm inclined to seek "stuff" because I love it; but oh, how I need the Son!

Sometimes the Lord has had to draw my stuff away from me before I realized what really matters. "Stuff" isn't wrong, but my inordinate affection for my stuff can keep me from seeking and loving God and desiring to live fully sold-out for Him.

I must learn to turn my head toward the Son and bask in His glory.

2. I'm Learning My Position—Light in the Lord.

When I became a Christ-follower, the Lord slowly began transforming my heart as I studied the scriptures. I learned I was once "in darkness," but by God's grace I became "light in the Lord." God wants me to discern what is pleasing to Him (Ephesians 5:8-10).

Slowly I've understood: the darkness of my spiritual graveyard is behind me. In the resurrected Christ, I should and can live in the light of my new birth.

I am a partaker of "the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:12). That's where I belong ... in the light.

Jesus wants to shine His light on me, but I must wake up and start living like a child of light (Ephesians 5:14-17).

3. I'm Learning to Walk in the Light.

In his book study on Ephesians, Warren W. Wiersbe wrote, "Walking 'as children of light' also means reveling in God's light in our daily lives. By our character and conduct, we bring God's light into a dark world. As God's light, we help others find their way to Christ."

Yes, I need to discern what God wants and obey Him for my own good and His glory. But walking in the light is even more than that. People are blinded by Satan and living in darkness. "Only as we witness and share Christ can the light enter in," Wiersbe wrote.

I can't be sluggish in my walk of light. I must be intentional and faithful.

"Jesus bids us shine, shine for all around.

Many kinds of darkness in the world are found.

Sin and want and sorrow, so we must shine—

You in your small corner and I in mine." (Susan B. Warner)

4. I'm Learning How Light Exposes Darkness.

Light reveals truth and exposes lies. It reveals sin for what it is.

That's why some people avoid church like the plague. They will not come to the light (John 3:20); they like their sin too much.

We don't have to blast sin at every point. God wants us to love people. But the truth is, if we are seeking God, resting in Christ and walking in the light, our lives will expose others' sin in contrast.

Some time ago, a woman blasted me, saying I was "on a pedestal." She said I must think I'm "holier than others." Her words cut deep. I felt I was following hard after Christ—pursuing Him and His righteousness; but I examined my heart to see if there was truth in her statements. Was I projecting pride?

God showed me one way that might be true and I dealt with that, but in the process, the Lord showed me the root of the problem. This woman was smarting under her own sinful choices. She lashed out under the weight of her own guilt.

God nudged me to love her more, encourage her and "be there" for her if opportunities came to help. But I realized at that point, standing for righteousness is going to invite some enemies (2 Timothy 3:12). I can't be a phoney Christian—I must walk in HIS light and not put the spotlight on anything less (and especially on myself)—but I can't expect everyone will love me for that.

The self-righteous Pharisees hated Jesus, the Light of the World, precisesly for this reason, and they tried to destroy Him. When sinners saw Christ's character, they had no cloak for their sin (John 15:22).

The righteousness of Christ in us will make the lost and religious hypocrites uncomfortable; but that doesn't mean we should stop walking in the light.

I want to be a Light-Dweller. Don't you? What's stopping you? Turn your head toward the Son today, rest in Him, and walk in His light.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic of Sunbeams Breaking Through a Cloud, adapted, courtesy of SeaquestDS at FreeImagesLive.

Graphic of Arctic Tern, courtesy of Pixabay.


Party Girl Finds Her True Identity

I’ve watched Sharon Paavola grow in recent years. God has transformed her and made her spirit beautiful. In this UPGRADE Uplift, she shares what the Lord did in her life and how He can do the same for each of us.

The words “party girl” crept into my mind with a cloud of regret and depression,” Sharon said.

We all have regrets. I (Dawn) do. The enemy likes to beat us up with them. But God has a word for Christians … actually, two … and they make all the difference. 

In Christ!

Sharon continues . . .

Party Girl. That's how I described most of my life to my psychiatrist. I told him how much I used to drink and date, even after my divorce and on into my forties. I caroused after I married my current husband.

Bad. That's what I thought about myself. Bad.

My coping mechanism, he said, during my immature stage. Where did that come from? Who did I model? I didn’t know anyone in my life that behaved that way. Christians surrounded me. Weren’t these bizarre actions from an innocent girl who knew God, who supposedly knew how to live rightly?

But I didn’t even bat an eye. It seemed natural to me … like I grew up in that environment. I lived a dual life. I acted as a Christian and then as the party girl wherever it suited me.

The chaos created in my mind and soul was so loud I had to keep partying to not hear it.

Then, 20 years ago as I sat in my closet, I finally surrendered all of my life to Christ. I wanted Him to be more than my Savior; I wanted Him to be my Lord. I realized my way had failed me. I wanted to walk His way.

Once I merged into one person, leaving the party girl behind, I found God loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me in spite of who I had been. I grew tired of my poor decisions and changed my life for the better. 

Yet with my new surrender, I was surprised by the agonizing depression that came as I thought about the past and things I couldn't change.

I was so susceptible to spiraling down the trail of old baggage. I felt despair and regret about all the time wasted—the shameful things I did. There had been two of me.

I ached inside thinking about the party girl, completely adrift with no anchor to hold her in place.

I cried for her. I cried over my past.

Abruptly, my doctor said our time had to end. But I wasn’t ready. When I turned my car on, the radio announcer said,

“You are not defined by who you used to be.”

That was the message I needed to hear! Oh, thank you, God!

I felt light again. The burden was gone along with the weighty regret. No longer the Party Girl! I am a “New Creature” in Christ. 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I could stop beating myself up. My spirit was free to listen to the transforming truth of God’s gospel and live His plan for my life. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

I am no longer defined by who I used to be. Now my identity is in Christ alone.

Are you the same person everywhere you go—the same at church and the same at home? How are you holding onto old concepts of yourself and not accepting the new you in Christ?

Sharon Paavola’s passion to speak, write and encourage women is to release them from their past—from depression and pain—so they can move on to hope, freedom and living in the present. Sharon writes a blog that includes book reviews, and she leads a Post Abortion Recovery Ministry. She and her husband, Eric, and two Bichons live in the San Diego, California, area and they have three grown children. Follow Sharon on herblog.

Graphic adapted, StockSnap, created by Luis Llerena.


Our Part: 'Responding' 

Although the Christian’s life is transformed by the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit—and we never want to forget that—there are plenty of commands in the scriptures that show our part in responding to the scriptures and Spirit of God.

Here are some things we can do that God can use to UPGRADE our lives spiritually ... but they are also the catalysts to change in many areas of life:

1. Realize Our Need for God. Not only do we need Him for our salvation, we need Him to become holy, effective servants in His kingdom. UPGRADING isn’t about self-effort; it’s about God’s effort in us. Christ will strengthen us (Philippians 4:13), and God is faithful to help us (1 Corinthians 10:13), but we need to respond to Him—yield to Him (Romans 6:1-19) and not try to change independent of Him.

2. Renew Our Mind (Romans 12:2). We do this as we read, study and memorize the Bible. Not only will we discover more about the God who loves us, we will find ways to overcome temptation, find freedom from habits and addictions, and become a success - by God’s definition (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Joshua 1:8; Proverbs 3:5-7; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12).

3. Respond to the Scriptures. We decide to obey. (I have a "Yes, Lord" reminder card in my Bible.) We create a plan to upgrade our lives based on the scriptures. Devise to do good, not evil (Proverbs 14:22). We are to be steadfast (1 Corinthians 15:58) and obedient (James 1:22-25). We can ask God how to become His disciple with “steadfast purpose” (James 1:5; Luke 14:26-33; Acts 11:23).

4. Repent as God leads. Repentance is changing our mind about sin with determination to stop sinning and live for God (Acts 8:22). God does not want His children to cover up sins and weaknesses. He doesn’t want us to excuse ourselves or blame others. We need true sorrow over sin (2 Corinthians 7:10). God has provided all we need to repent and change. Put off sinful habits and put on new ones (Ephesians 4:22-32).

5. Reach out to others in the Body of Christ. We are in one body, unified in Christ, to encourage and help each other obey, serve and worship God. When we struggle, we can share our need and pray for each other (James 5:16; Galatians 6:2). We attend church to learn more about God, but also to be encouraged and encourage others toward “love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

6. Rely on God for the Changes We Need. This is God-confidence. The Spirit of will empower us to live for the Lord. If we commit to Him, He will accomplish His will in and through us (Psalm 37:5; 2 Corinthians 9:8). We can pray for His help (1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6-7), especially when tempted (Matthew 26:36-46). It’s wise to be patient for change (Galatians 6:9; 2 Peter 3:18), and live the Christian life one day at a time (Matthew 6:33-34), giving ourselves grace—because God gives us grace!

Which of these areas of ‘Responding’ is the hardest for you?

Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God.