To Be a New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19

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When you become a Christian, a new life is born in you. Literally, you accept Christ’s sacrifice in place of your sins, and God forgives and redeems you. You are a new creation. God calls you New.

What does it mean to be a new creation? First, you are different from those who are not new. You desire to please God, and you choose what He commands. You can choose selflessness instead of thinking only of yourself. You are not held in bondage to your sins because you have been forgiven by the grace of God. There is freedom in being a new person.

Second, it means that you have a new purpose. Instead of living to please yourself and your desires, you are now a bearer of what the Apostle Paul calls “this wonderful message of reconciliation.” (NLT) You are not made new simply for your own benefit, but for the responsibility you now have of sharing the Gospel. You can bring the good news of salvation to people who do not know what it is like to fully accept God’s grace and forgiveness.

Who in your life does not know the joy of the Lord? Let your identity as a new person in Christ be a ready invitation offering them the same new life. How can you be a minister of reconciliation for him or her?

Originally published in Her Binder Project, February 2017. I absolutely love the free study resources at Her Binder Project and I completely recommend them. This is my first month writing for them, and I hope to continue!

Interested in which Bible I use for my daily study?
See my review of my two favorite Bibles here!

What does it mean to be a new creation? Thoughts from Grace Upon Grace Blog at deannalexis.wordpress.com

How to Avoid Envy

I thought jealousy only reared its ugly head on the playground or in the middle school cafeteria. I never once expected it to follow me to adulthood and marriage. But it has, and it makes me feel quite ugly inside and out.

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My Story

My husband and I have talked about our family and career goals. We have plans that we have prayed about, and we are open to God’s leading in whatever direction he has for us. Yet, I can’t help but feel so jealous of stay at home moms with new babies who live in seemingly perfect neighborhoods. The grass seems greener on the other side.

The funny thing is that I felt this same pang of envy when I was a college student and a recent graduate — before I started dating. It seemed like everyone else had found someone they loved, and I was destined to be an old, single cat lady. Then one day, I woke up with a sense of confidence and almost joy about that “cat-lady” life I had once dreaded. I looked forward to it. I made plans for graduate school and living with my best friends.

Not long after that, a guy I had met in college sent me a Facebook message. We chatted. Later, he asked for my phone number; after that, a date. Fast forward a couple years, and he asked for my hand in marriage.

It was definitely not instantaneous. Become satisfied with being single and God will magically grant you a boyfriend… is a terrible way to live. However, I became less jealous of others when I saw the beauty in my own situation. At that time, I worked with two wonderful, strong, older, and very independent single women in two separate settings. Their lives encouraged me to live my singleness to the fullest, and I began to appreciate them.

Today, as a happily-married woman, I find other things to keep me envious. It’s ugly, and I hate it. I know that God hates it, too.

How can I (and you) avoid it?

I already mentioned the first way: Relish what you have. Rejoice in your current place. Just as the wonderful single women in my life encouraged me to enjoy my singleness, so the married women in my life can also encourage me to make the most of these days. Are you a working mom wishing you were home? Or a homeschooling mom wishing you had a career outside the home? Maybe you’re a high school student waiting for the day you can leave home… Or a wife hoping for fertility. Who is in your same spot? Find them at church, in a Bible study, on a blog, at the gym, at school or work… The opportunities are endless. Find the joy in today and relish it. Encourage each other to celebrate today, because this too is the day that the Lord has made.

Romans 12:15 urges its readers to rejoice with those who rejoice. This doesn’t come easily. A family member of ours gave elaborate, expensive gifts to the family at Christmas time. My husband and I opted for inexpensive books, journals, and shirts. I went into Christmas knowing that our gifts were meaningful and not going to put us into debt. However, when I saw the mounds of presents this person brought in, I became jealous of the money they make and of the exuberant responses they received from family members. But the verse I had memorized so long ago came back to me… Rejoice with those who rejoice. They may make more money than we do, but they sweetly gave of what they had, not hoarding their extra money for themselves. I can rejoice with them instead of harboring envy towards them. 

Finally, a warning to take care of yourself… Obviously, the “rejoice with those who rejoice” includes things like going to bridal and baby showers, attending weddings and graduations, sending greeting cards, and buying presents. But for a person with serious pain and heartache in a specific area, it might be okay to opt out of some of that rejoicing. When a church’s young members all began to get pregnant around the same time, a woman I knew carefully selected which showers she would attend. She had struggled with infertility for a long time and was in a deep place of pain. For her, it was not the pang of jealousy, but the sharp, heart-wrenching stab of hurt. She went to the smaller showers for her closest friends, and had prior commitments during the others. In this way, she was able to care for herself and her emotions, which enabled her to more fully love and celebrate the friends to whom she was closest.

The Fruit of the Spirit

The fifth chapter of Galatians ends by expressing the results of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives: things like love for others, kindness towards those around us, and self-control in our actions and in our hearts. Just prior to that paragraph is a section explaining the desires of the flesh: jealousy AND envy, as well as idolatry, selfish ambition, and dissension. We are called to a passionate love, even towards those we think have everything we want. For in the loving, we cease to be jealous of what they have and, instead, come to celebrate the unique paths where God has placed us.

Not Easy

Well, I’ve come full circle. Again. I have a project due tomorrow for the first year teacher’s program at my school and I am cleaning, organizing, and blogging in a feeble attempt at procrastination. This reminds me of college so much, except that I am listening to rain instead of Mumford.

I’m also coming full circle in a different way. This summer, I will be moving. Again. With a doubt, I am overjoyed to be moving. I landed my dream job with an amazing support system. I have a potential housing situation lined up. I will no longer be living 3.5 hours from my amazing boyfriend… I am so excited about what is to come.

The existence of excitement does not preclude the existence of fear, exhaustion, uncertainty, uncomfortability, insecurity, or difficulty.

In fact, excitement and uncertainty have often gone hand in hand for me. Excitement and exhaustion are two words that describe my overseas travel impeccably – often at the same exact moment. Excitement and fear define my first year of college in a nutshell.

So here I am, putting on my big girl panties and moving to another state. For a boy. For a job. For a better living situation.

I know, without a doubt, that this is what God has for me. I know that it is good. It know that it is His plan. I know this because it has worked out perfectly in only the way that He can work things out. I know this because the guy who lives there loves me with safe, sacrificial, challenging love that blows my mind. I know this because God has proven himself again and again. I know that it is God’s plan for me to move to this new state and city and community.

Regardless, I am still afraid. I am still tired, uncertain, uncomfortable, insecure, and preparing to face difficulty. “Being in God’s will” (whatever that means) does not mean that everything is peachy. Following God does not make your problems disappear.

This morning in church, my pastor explained that with good couples, one partner has strengths where the other has weaknesses. The opposite is true as well. In moments of alignment, they complement each other. In moments of misalignment, they complain: “We’re so different from each other! Why are we even dating/engaged/married?!?” But that’s just what makes couples work. We’re supposed to be different from our partners. They complement us.

If we take difficulty (like the example of the complaining couple) to mean that we’re in the wrong place or God is punishing us or we should leave, we’re understanding difficulty inappropriately. Sometimes we are in the “wrong” place, and God makes that clear to us while calling us to a new place. But we should not run away from difficult situations. We should work through them, only leaving if proven necessary. That’s why we should not break up relationships or get divorced over difficulties. We should work through them and figure out the real issues.


One reason I am afraid is that I don’t do “new” very well. I am a hardcore introvert who loves dependability. That’s one reason it’s hard to be around a lot of people. Other people often do things that are unexpected, and that leaves a lot of newness and inconsistency to deal with in a group setting.

However, I have realized that I need people. Shocking, I know.

I was reading an article from Donald Miller that discussed introversion and extroversion. One person commented: “…it takes me several days of complete solitude to recover [after a big social engagement]. I used to apologize for it, but now I just plan for it.” I think that summarizes the introvert’s needs perfectly. It would be wrong of me to constantly apologize for the weird things I do because I’m so introverted. However, it would also be wrong of me to pretend I didn’t have a need for “recharge” time. Like the commenter said, I should plan for those things and give myself grace to work through them.

It is great to acknowledge and utilize an understanding of personal traits like introversion and extroversion, but we cannot let the labels dictate our lives. Introverts cannot eliminate community time any more than extroverts can eliminate solitude time. It’s necessary to have experiences that shape and stretch us, and both community and solitude are essential for spiritual growth. My old youth pastor used to tell me that ministry (and a lot of life) is 80% what you want to do and 20% what you don’t want to do.

As I think about moving and making new friends, developing relationships, seeking mentors, exploring a new city, and learning a new job, I know there will be difficulty. I know that a lot of the tasks I must accomplish as I move are challenging for someone who is 98% introverted like me. But life is not about “easy.” It’s about becoming more like Christ, which is anything but easy.

I’m ready for it. I know I will feel afraid but I also know that God is with me. I know I will feel insecure, but I also know that he has brought me here. I know I will face difficulty, but I also know that this is where he wants me. I’m ready for this new adventure because I am taking my adventures one step at a time.

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.