Faith Identity

The Word in You!

Growing up, I got hungry, a lot! Those adolescent growing pains were screaming for more food NOW! My body demanded energy! My mom couldn’t keep enough food in the frig!  Recently, I was having supper with one of the young men I mentor. He’s in college and still growing. We had a great conversation, but halfway through my meal I noticed he was already done! He snarfed it; almost shoving it into his face! Oh, that we would have such an insatiable hunger for God’s Word!

It Took a Crisis

When I turned 12, I trusted Jesus. My faith was thin and fragile. By the time I was 15, I was negotiating with my parents how little I could go to church. I only wanted enough of Jesus to get to heaven. Living for myself consumed me. No one was going to tell me what to do! There were girls to chase, things to experiment with and other nefarious adventures to be had. Then, at 16, just before my senior year of high school, tragedy hit me like a massive baseball bat to the side of my head!  When I heard my good friend Kevin was killed, my world fell apart. Sixteen-year-olds aren’t supposed to die! But they do!

The Day I Surrendered

A cloud of surrealism engulfed me as I sat at a funeral for six kids, all killed in the same car/train accident. Was I actually looking at six caskets? There were 1500 of us packed into that hot high school gym converted into a funeral chapel. That’s when God hit me up. He whispered deep in my soul. The reason Kevin had such a healthy walk with me, David, is because he spent time with me in my Word. I love you, David, and I long for you to dwell close to me too. The proverbial light bulb came on in my 16-year old heart. Kevin was an example to me of how a guy lived for Christ. Even as early as seventh grade, Kevin would get up early to be in the Word.  So, on that fateful August funeral day, I surrendered my heart to Jesus by agreeing to be in His Word daily.

Unstoppable Hunger

Decades later, through thick and thin, my life has been revolutionized by the Word of God!  Not because it’s a book, but because it is living and active! The Holy Spirit uses the Word to penetrate deep into my soul; to speak to me. To lead, guide and instruct me. To keep my ways pure. To teach me holiness and the real meaning of manhood. To lead me in an authentic relationship with Jesus.

My hunger for God’s Word has been unstoppable ever since.

Jeremiah 15:16 ESV says it all for me.

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy

   and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name,

   O Lord, God of hosts.

Maybe you find yourself like I was when I was a young teenager, bored with Jesus. Thinking you want something more out of life, you take at best a casual approach to the Bible. Sure, when a crisis hits, you scramble to find something in it, but otherwise, life’s too busy to sit before the King of Kings. That can change. In fact, without such change, your Christian life, if that is what you want to call it, will be nothing more than a religion; and religion saves no one.

Five Key Ways the Word Impacts Your Life

1.Spiritual Nourishment. Like a steak dinner, God’s Word is the spiritual nutrition your soul needs to survive. You wouldn’t think twice of eating food once a week. If you did, you’d be malnourished in very short order. That’s what happens spiritually when you rarely eat from God’s Word. Two college roommates decided that they should eat from God’s Word as often as they ate food. Beyond three meals a day were snacks and midnight runs to IHOP. For an entire semester, they would read the Bible 3-5 times a day. It changed how they viewed God’s Word. They ate it up!

What food is for the body, God’s Word is food for the soul.

2. Joy increases. Here’s an interesting reality. Hope and joy increase in proportion to being in the Word. I’ve experienced some very dark circumstances. My mom’s battle with cancer. The sudden death of my dad. My unexpected open heart surgery. Financial pressure amidst a crashing economy. Falsely accused by a foreign country’s border patrol. What I’ve found interesting is during those times when life is definitely NOT happy, I still had joy. I still had hope. Why? The Holy Spirit used God’s Word to remind me of his abiding presence regardless of circumstances.

3. Delight Rises. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the Word, facing a challenge or circumstance that perplexes me, only to find the Spirit using the Word to speak to my soul. It might be a particular word or a phrase that lifts right off the page and hits me with such delight and affirmation. That, my friend, is what happens when we experience the presence of the Lord through His Word.

4. Identity Clarified. Little did I know that less than six months after my friend’s funeral, I would be facing the worst depression ever. You’d think that being in God’s Word would bring instant transformation. It came, eventually. What I discovered that fall semester was God was reshaping my identity from this self-focused, narcissistic guy to a young man whose identity was now being shaped by God calls me in Christ. Christ IS my life. Christ IS my identity. I’m not who my professor says I am. I’m not who my boss says I am, nor anyone else; even if they think the world of me. I am redeemed by Christ, made holy by Him and created to bring Him glory. I have value not because of what I have done, but because He has chosen to place His unconditional love on me. Sure, I fail at times. I come up short. I do stupid. But, I am called by the LORD, God of hosts. He IS my identity!

5. God Shows Up! Hebrews 4:12 says

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,

piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow,

and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

When I read God’s Word, I have the opportunity to meet with the God of the Universe!  Why would I want to miss that?!

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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