Under Construction

My daily commute takes me past the local Golden Arches and I have enjoyed watching the visible progression of their remodeling project. The red tin roof and faded yellow sign have been removed and a new modern shape is being erected. The mound of discarded items keeps growing in the dumpster while the stack of building materials that was delivered to the site at the onset of the project is shrinking. Some days there is a whirlwind of activity and other times the rain has brought things to a screeching halt, but progress is being made.

And to the delight of travelers and locals alike, a large sign outside the building reads “Open During Construction”. Granted, the parking lot is somewhat tight, there’s extra noise during lunch hour, it might be a bit of a mess, and everyone has to be a little flexible, but nobody has had to forgo their Big Mac or Egg McMuffin or Happy Meal. In the midst of the renovation the employees have tried to continue with business as usual.

There’s something exciting about renovations. Years of wear and tear are replaced with fresh and new. Faded becomes vibrant. Outdated becomes advanced. Boring becomes bright. Lifeless becomes lively. Transformation is captivating

Each of us is a bit like a renovation project. As a baby, we seem absolutely perfect – a new construction. But over time our spirit becomes dull, our lives are contaminated by sin, we are faded by the consequences of our decisions, and we are in desperate need of an overhaul. Thankfully, God is in the business of renovations. He delights in making all things new. He restores our soul. Scriptures tell us that God makes all things beautiful in his time (Eccl 3:11) and that if we are in Christ, the old has gone and the new is here (2 Corinthians 5:17). That is the most exciting transformation to witness.

And Like McDonald’s, we are “Open During Construction”. Sometimes people watch and observe as old things are stripped away, we have messes to clean up and adjustments to make, and periodically things seem to be at a standstill. But be assured that God is at work. As Paul writes in Philippians 1:6 “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

So what does completion look like? For McDonald’s, I’m not really sure. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But for those who are in Christ, when we reach completion, we will be a perfect reflection of Jesus. And while that won’t happen on this side of eternity, we continue to be open during construction, learning and growing and transforming as we go along.

Another renovation that I’m excited about is the scheduled repair of Highway 75 north of Main Street. The local newspaper reported that beginning in July, crews will do emergency repairs and mill off the worst spots to level the surface and make long asphalt patches on the driving lanes. I am delighted that we will have a smoother driving lane; however, it’s a temporary fix to a deeper issue.

People have a tendency to do the same thing in their lives. We make some upgrades to the behaviors that are visible to the public eye, but we don’t deal with the underlying problems. We focus on symptoms instead of solutions. We avoid the hard work of transformation.

As we embrace the summer construction season, may we be convicted of the changes and shifts and complete renovations that need to be made in our own lives, both on the surface and deep within. And may we not shy away from engaging the process.

Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet,

Erin Jacobsma

 


Consider Your Path

History was made last week in Louisville, Kentucky. The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby took place on Saturday, May 4, 2019 and for the first time in race history, the horse that crossed the finish line first was not declared the winner, but was disqualified for race interference. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the race, here is a recap.

The Kentucky Derby is touted as the greatest two minutes in sports and 19 horses lined up for the contest on a sloppy, rain-drenched track. The horse named Maximum Security was one of the favorites to win. This particular Thoroughbred led the entire race and indeed crossed the finish line before the others, but after an objection was made and the videos were reviewed, it was clear that Maximum Security had drifted out of his lane, bumping into the horse next to him and hindering the stride of several horses, namely War of Will, Long Range Toddy, Bodexpress, and Code of Honor. (Don’t you just love horse names!)

Unlike NASCAR, rubbing isn’t racing, and the rules in Kentucky that apply to horse racing provide for the disqualification of a horse if it shifts its position in a manner that impedes or interferes with another horse, costing that horse a better place in the race. Ultimately, the path that Maximum Security chose cost him the crown!

The same is true for us. Our future is determined by the choices we make and the path we choose. This is true for the high school graduate, the convicted offender, the veteran, the senior citizen, the farmer, the teacher, the secretary, the mom… all people. It can cost us our finances, our relationships, our reputations, our life. The path we choose leads to victory or defeat, to eternal life or eternal death.

As I consider our paths, I have come to the conclusion that we are often tempted to take the path of least resistance, to seek an avenue of ease and comfort, routes that don’t look too different or require too much change. We tend to justify the lane we are in and we like our pathways to be wide and relaxed, giving us plenty of room to move around.

But Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” The Way that Jesus is talking about is himself. Jesus is the way. He is the way to the Father. He is the way to salvation. He is the way to eternal life. Jesus’ own words are recorded in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We, then, are called to be followers of The Way, to be in the world, but not of the world, to be set apart and distinct. Our path is a different one.

There are many verses in the Bible that talk about our path, but one of my favorites is Proverbs 3:5-6. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

It would have been a game changer for Maximum Security if he had stayed on a straight path. It’s a game changer for you too. Are you on the right path? Are you following The Way to life or the road of destruction? May each of us live the words of Psalm 25:4: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.”

Erin Jacobsma

 

 


Mighty Hand and Outstretched Arm

My daily Bible reading plan has directed me through the book of Deuteronomy over the past couple of weeks. As I read through the 34 chapters that recollect the stories of Moses and the Israelites while they journeyed to the Promised Land, a simple phrase caught my attention. Multiple times, Moses directs the people to remember God’s MIGHTY HAND AND OUTSTRETCHED ARM. One of those passages is Deuteronomy 5:15: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”

The imagery of God’s arm/hand was a powerful one for the Israelites. They had lived for 400 years under the hand of Pharaoh, but had also witnessed God having the upper hand and defeating this earthly leader and redeeming His people.

So what picture comes to mind when you think about God’s arm or hand in your life? Maybe you hear the words of the timeless Sunday School song “He’s got the whole world in His hands…” Or do you imagine God holding you in His arms like an NFL football player clutching a football and barreling down the field of life? Perhaps you view God’s hand raised in a position to strike, or like a reprimanding parent shaking their finger at you. Maybe you see God’s arms as a place to find shelter like a mother hen tucks in her chicks.

One of my views of God’s arm/hand stems from when my children were little. When we would go for a walk, we went hand in hand. Sometimes the grip was loose; sometimes we held pinkies; sometimes I increased the strength of our connection when we were getting close to a busy street. But often times, as their hands were in mine, we would encounter a crack in the sidewalk or some other obstacle and they would begin to stumble. At these times, I would tighten my grip and raise my hand in the air, pulling their little body upward to prevent their tender knees and nose from scraping along the sidewalk. Likewise, I see my hand in God’s, sometimes just walking along enjoying the company of one another, and sometimes getting yanked off my toes to prevent a greater calamity.

There are many scripture passages that refer to the hands and arms of God. Here are a few:

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Jeremiah 32:17 “Oh, Lord God! You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

This week, I challenge you to focus on the Lord’s mighty hand and outstretched arm. See them stretched out on a tree, bloodied and torn apart for you. See the outstretched arms of God who loved you so much that he gave his one and only Son as a ransom for your soul. See them raised in victory; he has conquered the grave and reigns with all authority in heaven and on earth.

Like the psalmist, let us raise our voices in praise of the Lord our God! “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” (Psalm 98:1-3 NKJV)

Erin Jacobsma

 

 


Preparing…

Preparations are a part of life. Parents prepare meals for their children, teachers prepare lesson plans, pastors prepare sermons, high school seniors are preparing for graduation, and soon (I hope) farmers will prepare the soil for planting. On a daily basis, most people are putting something in order for a future time. My family is in the midst of an intensified season of preparation. We are in the process of moving.

I have changed addresses many times throughout my adult life; this is number ten to be exact. However, I don’t particularly enjoy moving. It’s not that I’m overly sentimental or attached to a particular house. And even having the best neighbors in the world (aka The Woodleys☺) hasn’t derailed our current undertaking to transplant to a different neighborhood. The disdain I have for relocating is due to the preparations involved. Not only is there the sorting and packing and dismantling of things at our current residence, there are arrangements that need to be made for the transfer of utilities and mail and other paperwork. We have also been doing some renovations at our future home in preparation for the big move – cleaning, painting, removing carpet, updating some plumbing and heating, and trying to keep the snow moved.

Preparations require a lot of work. Necessary work. Sure there are times when we can wing it, or go with the flow, but lack of preparation often leads to stress and frustration and maybe even some tears. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

God’s Word also talks about preparations. 2 Chronicles 12 records a time in the history of God’s people when the king did evil because he had not prepared his heart to seek the Lord. This is true for all of us. When we do not prepare our hearts to follow Jesus, when we do not determine to be obedient to His commands, and when we are inattentive to the evil around us, we slip into destructive patterns and habitual sins and dishonor God. We do evil because we fail to prepare.

Lent is a season of preparation. We are preparing our hearts to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior. Some choose to prepare by fasting, eating different foods, or giving up something and denying themselves a particular pleasure. Others prepare by spending time in God’s Word, increasing their prayer time, or being more intentional of their spiritual formation, while others will arrive at Easter morning with no thought or preparation at all.

Jesus is also making preparations. In John chapter 14, Jesus tells his disciples to not focus on the troubles in this world because he is going to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house. And when those preparations are complete he will return.

None of us know when that day will come. We do not know the number of days allotted to us on this earth. We do not know when “Moving Day” will be. But we can be certain that the time will come when the opportunity to make preparations is gone. Whether we leave this world as an individual or Christ returns for the final judgement, the time to prepare will be over. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus has prepared a way for us to be reconciled to God and spend eternity with him. All we have to do is believe in him and prepare our hearts by seeking him.

What are you doing to prepare your heart?

Erin Jacobsma

 


Respond With Worship

On Wednesday evenings, I have the privilege to spend 90 minutes with 5th and 6th grade girls in Pioneer Club. Part of our time together is used to explore the Word of God and for another segment of time we are involved in a project or activity. We do things like sewing, candle making, woodworking, playing games, and learning about etiquette. This month our focus is on First Aid. Two wonderful nurses have joined our class and shared the importance of knowing what to do in a medical emergency and how to respond in different situations. The girls have learned that while our natural tendencies are to freak out or be afraid, the response that is needed is to remain calm.

Remaining calm is a great life skill. It’s not only necessary in medical emergencies, but is extremely helpful in other situations as well. It is important to remain calm when we don’t get our way, when everything is falling apart, when relationships are tense, and when we are under pressure. Staying calm is a great response in almost any setting.

There’s another wonderful way to respond to situations in life that’s recorded for us throughout scripture. Let’s start in Genesis. We read in chapter 24 about Abraham sending his assistant on a mission to find a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant asks God to give him success in this task and when it becomes clear to him that the Lord has provided, his response is to bow down and worship Him.

In Exodus 12 in the midst of a series of plagues God brought upon the Egyptians, Moses meets with the Israelites and explains to them what’s going to happen with the 10th plague. He gives them direction regarding the Passover lamb, strange bread that they are supposed to prepare, and how to paint their doorposts with blood. They didn’t complain about all the rules and requirements, they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord in response.

In the second book of Samuel, we read a scandalous story of King David taking another man’s wife for himself, the woman becoming pregnant, David arranging for the woman’s husband to be killed, and a prophecy that the child to be born would die. David repents of his sins and pleads for the child’s life through prayer and fasting, but the child dies anyway. At the news of the infant’s death, David responds by getting up, taking a shower, changing his clothes, and going to the house of the Lord to worship.

In 2 Chronicles 20 we read of a great army coming against God’s people and King Jehoshaphat. They didn’t know what to do, but they fell down before the Lord and worshiped Him.

There are many times in our lives when we don’t know what to do and worship is probably the last thing on our minds. We don’t know what to do when our career is stripped away. We don’t know what to do when a medical diagnosis is not what we hoped for. We don’t know what to do when a prayer seems to go unanswered, when nothing ever goes as planned, when disaster strikes, when a loved one takes their own life. Remaining calm is a good start. But worship is always the best response.

No matter if you find yourself in the midst of joy or turmoil. God is still God and worthy of our praise. Next time you are tempted to shake your fists at Him or turn your back and walk away, try worshiping Him instead. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! For the Lord is good and his steadfast love endures forever!

Erin Jacobsma

 


Servant or Consumer?

One of my favorite childhood stories was “The Little Red Hen”. If you are unfamiliar with the fable or forgot how it goes, the Little Red Hen finds a grain of wheat and asks for help from the barnyard animals to plant it, but they all refuse. As the story proceeds through watering, harvesting, threshing, and making bread, the hen repeatedly asks, “Who will help me?” But with each request, the response of the barnyard animals is the same. “Not I.” Finally the hen has completed her project and asks who will help her eat the fresh baked bread. Now all of the previous non-participants eagerly volunteer to consume the product. However, she refuses to share with them because none of them helped her with the work and she proceeds to eat the bread with her chicks.

As a child, I never questioned the ending of this story. It made perfect sense to me—if you don’t want to help with the work, you don’t get to enjoy the outcome or have any say in it. It is true that God calls us to be generous and gracious to those in need, but we also need to pitch in when there’s work to be done. Maybe you are critical of the Little Red Hen for not being more hospitable to her barnyard friends, but it seems to me that maybe they needed to learn a lesson.

Four years ago, the theme and focus of this editorial page was changed to “Not So With You” based on Mark 10:43. The disciples were arguing among themselves about who would be greater in Jesus’ kingdom when He sees that they need to be taught a lesson as well. Jesus deviates from common thinking and says, “Not so with you. Instead, anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. And anyone who wants to be first must be the slave of everyone. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The staff and consistory are reading a book written by Francis Chan called “Letters to The Church”. Throughout the book Chan looks at today’s church and questions if God had his way, what would our churches look like. One of the chapters is devoted to the mandate to be servants. He writes, “At the core of our faith is the belief that Almighty God humbled himself to serve us and die for us. At the root of our calling is a command to imitate him by serving one another. After washing the disciples feet, Jesus commanded them to wash one another’s feet (John 13:14). But on any given Sunday what percentage of “Christians” show up eager to serve others? It’s no secret that most people who attend church services come as consumers rather than servants.”

In my opinion, the Little Red Hen had a servant heart. She didn’t complain about the work that needed to be done, or shame the animals that didn’t want to help, or avoid the work altogether like her barnyard companions. She simply asked others to join her in the work.

For the past several months, I’ve been involved in the process of recruiting volunteers. I have searched for greeters, care shepherds, contact people for serve groups, praise team members, people to run video, operate the projection system, design worship slides, work in the nursery, serve coffee on Sunday mornings, serve meals, and more. My requests have found many servant hearts and many Not I’s. Sometimes I am guilty of being like the Little Red Hen and trying to do all the work myself, but I can’t. Nobody can. We need each other.

We all are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it. You can read more about that in 1 Corinthians 12:12-17. Would you consider playing your part in 2019? I know many Little Red Hens that would be grateful.

Erin Jacobsma

 


Best. Gift. Ever

I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts lately. Probably because it’s less than 3 weeks until Christmas and there are only 2 presents beneath my tree. Why do I always procrastinate? It’s not that I don’t enjoy giving gifts to  the special people in my life, I just don’t particularly enjoy shopping for those gifts.

Thankfully, gifts aren’t really that big of deal in our family, although our children might disagree. As my husband would say, “It’s Christmas all year long at our house.” We both grew up in homes where pennies were pinched and non-essentials were rarely purchased. But as time has passed and we’ve been able to loosen our financial belt a little and no longer cross our fingers until the paycheck is deposited, we tend to buy things when we “need” them and not wait for a holiday to roll around. That being said, I still can’t convince myself that there doesn’t need to be at least a few festively wrapped packages under the tree on Christmas Eve.

Maybe my struggle with gift-giving is less about my dislike of crowds and shopping malls and more about the challenge of trying to find the perfect gift. You know, the one that causes their eyes to twinkle and a smile to erupt and makes them squeal with delight! That’s the reaction I enjoy, but I’m also a practical gift giver. Without exception, each year packages under our tree contain socks, underwear, hygiene products, clothes, food, and other necessities. These are good gifts, just not ones that create excitement.

As I pondered all this gift giving, Matthew 7:11 came to mind. Jesus says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” And in James 1:17 we read that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

So what makes a gift good? Are good gifts only those that we ask for or the thing that we desire the most? I’m not convinced. Some of the best gifts I ever received are ones I didn’t even know I wanted. In some instances, they seemed to be the exact opposite of my request.

Maybe some of you have been presenting your wish list to the Father hoping that he will come through. Maybe you’ve been praying for a Christmas miracle, but you feel like all you are getting is socks and underwear. Your requests are good, but don’t miss out on the love of the Giver because the gift isn’t what you expected or asked for.

Regardless of what lies beneath your Christmas tree when December 25 rolls around, there’s one gift that’s guaranteed to be perfect. Paul tells about this gift in Romans 6:23. “The wages of sin is death, but the free GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This gift has been given to all people, but just like the other presents under your tree, it must be received. Nobody leaves a present under the Christmas tree because they didn’t feel like opening it or because they thought it could wait until next year. Yet many have set aside the most amazing gift of love ever given. God loves you so much that he gave his one and only Son so that if you believe in him you will not perish but have everlasting life.

Open up your heart this year and receive Jesus. Best. Gift. Ever.

Erin Jacobsma

 


Value

This past weekend, the Jacobsma clan gathered together at Grand Prairie Events for an auction of my late father-in-law’s treasures. Bernie was an avid collector of toys—tractors, implements, trucks, horse drawn carriages and more. The 2-day event was fun; fun to be together, fun to assist the auctioneers, fun to see familiar faces, and fun to imagine how much Dad would have enjoyed being there.

Some family members are also involved in collecting toys and know a good deal when they see one, but that is not the case for me. I am in the same category as my sister in law who said, “I clearly know nothing about toy auctions. Things that I thought would go cheap brought a higher dollar and things that I thought would do well, sold low.” We just couldn’t make sense of it.

As I reflected on the weekend, VALUE seemed to be the theme that kept coming up for bid in my mind. Ultimately the value of each item was determined by the highest bidder. Some bidders saw the possibility of  an item increasing in value or maybe re-selling it for a profit. Some saw the value in buying a gift for a loved one at a discounted price. Other bidders determined value based on sentimental reasons. Such was the case for my daughter. She loves horses and loves Grandpa and she was not going to stop bidding until the set of Appaloosa horses and wagon was hers. Regardless of the reason, in the end, each toy sold for an amount that someone was willing to pay.

There’s a story in the Bible about an auction. It’s found in the book of Hosea. Hosea was a prophet to the people of Israel, warning them of the calamity that was going to come if they continued to be unfaithful to their covenant with God. In an unusual “object lesson”, God commands Hosea to take a prostitute as his wife. Hosea obeys the Lord and marries Gomer. The local people must have thought he was crazy. Hosea and Gomer have 3 children together before old habits resurfaced. She walks away from Hosea and returns to her former ways of prostitution. But God isn’t finished with this lesson. He tells Hosea to go after his wife even though she is unfaithful, and to love her as the Lord loves the Israelites even though they also have been unfaithful and worship other gods. So Hosea goes to the local auction and purchases Gomer for 15 shekels of silver and some barley. Now, I can’t tell you the value of a shekel, and I’m not sure that it’s important, but we do know from Exodus 21:32 that the going rate for a slave was 30 shekels. This gives us a pretty good idea of what the other bidders thought Gomer was worth. I have to wonder if there were even others that were interested, or if Hosea offered the only bid.

This story gives us a beautiful illustration of God’s unrelenting pursuit and love for us. God loves us in spite of our unfaithfulness, and in spite of what value others see in us. He loves us with an everlasting love and paid a high price. John 3:16-17 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save (purchase) the world through him.”

You, my friend, are valuable to the Lord. Maybe you think your value is limited and you feel like a half-priced clearance item like Gomer, but our value is not determined by our achievements or our failures. Our value is determined by the One who paid it all! “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So Glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And just as Hosea said to Gomer, our Father says to us, “You must dwell as mine… You will not belong to another.”

Erin Jacobsma

 


Get Naked

“Today is a Good Day for a Good Day.” That is one of two sayings you would see on the wall if you asked to use the bathroom at our house. It reminds me of the words of Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Every morning, the statement suggests to me that no matter what happened yesterday or what my concerns for today might be, each day has the potential to be a good day. And even if it doesn’t feel like it has been a good day when I’m ready to retreat to my pillow at night, each day is a gift from God and His goodness is woven into it.

The second saying that you will see on my bathroom wall is “Get Naked”. Some guests have questioned  my sanity regarding those words. But the words have a double meaning to me, both practical and spiritual. They are fitting, in my opinion, to scroll across the bathroom wall, because they tell exactly what is required before one would enter the shower. They also remind me exactly what is necessary in my relationship with God. Obviously the definition of being naked in the shower is to be without clothes. However, when I crack open my thesaurus and look up additional words with similar meanings, I read these definitions: undisguised, plain, unadorned, open, exposed, bare, stripped, unveiled, without covering.

For most of our lives, we have been taught to hide our emotional and spiritual brokenness and scars. Cover up. Put a smile on your face. Wear the mask. But I’m learning that if we really want to have an intimate relationship with Father, we need to get naked and bring all of who we are before Him. The good, the bad, the ugly. Even the saggy.

Some time ago, I received an email containing an article from Ann Voskamp titled “Brutally Honest Psalms.” Her words feel naked.

“How long, O Lord?
Have You dropped your watch, lost Your cosmic phone, forgotten that we are kinda just dying here, kinda just waiting here for You to rouse, wake up and finally do something, anything, for crying out loud?
How long till you see the blasted hands of the clock ticking down, like an atomic bomb, while You seem to just sit on Your hands?
How long till you peel back an eyelid up there and see that we’ve got people hurting like the dickens down here, and that open window with its sliver of possibility, it’s closing right before our eyes, and hear us: 
Our endurance is flat out of breath, and our hope is withering up.
You may have all of forever, but we, sure as Sheol, do not.
How long till we see some light at the end of the tunnel — but what if that light turns out to be a train come barreling our way?”

Could you be this honest with God?

The shower might seem like an unlikely altar, but Hebrews 4:13 reminds us that “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (ESV) Father knows everything anyway. Stop trying to cover up. I dare you to sit with Him and get naked.

Erin Jacobsma

 


I Am Who God Says I Am

Over the past couple of months we have been singing a song called “Child of God” by Hillsong during some of our worship services. Every time the music begins and the screen comes to life, I get choked up thinking about these words. “Who am I that the highest King would welcome me? I was lost but He brought me in; oh His love for me.” I cannot even begin to comprehend why God would want anything to do with a sinner like me and I am overwhelmed by his love! Tears fill my eyes, and I can hardly utter the words out loud. But within the 30 seconds that it takes to get to the next phrase in the song – “Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed. I’m a child of God, Yes I am” – I want to raise my hands and my “hallelujah” and run through the aisles proclaiming my freedom!

But it’s the words that come next that I’ve been contemplating this week. “I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who You say I am. You are for me; not against me. I am who You say I am.”

I am who you say I am? Who does God say that I am?

Since the beginning of 2018, in response to Saul’s question in Acts 9:5 “Who are you, Lord” I have been going through the book of Psalms writing down everything that I know and can be certain of and proclaim about my Lord. My search has assured me that he is a shield around me, he hears my weeping, he searches minds and hearts, he watches over the way of the righteous, he laughs at those who plot against him, his love is unfailing, he does not disappoint, he is my Shepherd, all his ways are loving and faithful, he is my hope, he is King forever and ever. I could go on and on. My pen has lined many pages with my confidence about who God is.

But who am I? I was introduced to this world as Erin Gayle Teunissen. But that’s just a name. Over my lifetime, the enemy has led me to believe that I am less than, average, unimportant, insignificant, and worthless. For many years those were the words I believed. But that’s not the truth. God sees me in a different light. I am his beloved. I am chosen. I am forgiven. I am holy. I am free from condemnation through Christ’s death.

I started going back through the book of Psalms to see if there were things that I could be certain of about who I am. I discovered that I am blessed, I am set apart, I am crowned with glory and honor, I have a delightful inheritance, I am the apple of his eye, I am protected, I am armed with God’s strength, I will not be in want, I am blessed because my transgressions are forgiven and my sins are covered. I am a child of God.

So who are you? Do you believe what the lies of the enemy say about you or are you going to believe the Truth? Satan knows your name, but calls you by your sin. Jesus knows your sins, but calls you by your name. You are valued and loved.

I have been called many names over the years, some names of affection and some I’d like to forget. As a child, I hated my given name. But listen to this from Revelation 2:17: “To him who overcomes, I will give a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.”

Imagine that… God has a pet name for you. A term of endearment. Maybe it’s a descriptive name, but it will be yours and only yours. Today, choose to believe that you are who he says you are. You are a child of God. Live like it! Erin Jacobsma