Grace Michaelson

Hijacked!

Sep
14

I have been busy lately working on a manuscript that I hope I can turn into a book, either by self-publishing or by going the route of finding a agent/publisher.  In recent days, I’ve come to the realization that my book has wondered away from a central theme.

Isn’t that what life is like?  Sometimes everything looks like it’s going right along when all of a sudden you look around you and realize you’ve lost all sight of your path.  Sometimes, like my book, it’s just in one small area, but sometimes you wake up and realize your whole life has been highjacked by life.

When I was young, my most favorite book of all was Tower of Geburah, by John White.  It is a classic allegory about three siblings who learn through their adventures to follow Gaal– the book’s savior and Jesus-figure.  There’s one part of this book that relates to my conversation with you today.  There’s a point in the book where Lisa is following a path that ultimately will lead her to Gaal.  She’s not aware of this fact, only that it appears that the blue lit path is the good path and the other corridors she passes are tantalizing temptations, but lit by other colors.  At one point she falls to the temptation of the smell of freshly baked bread.  She follows down the path only to come to the realization that it’s a trap and she is now lost from the blue tunnel.  She calls out to Gaal and is lead back to where she started.  Yet, the path back to where she started seems to her to be longer than the path was to get herself lost in the first place.

Here’s my point:  It is so easy to find ourselves down a path we didn’t want or shouldn’t have followed.  Oh, I’m yelling at my kids more often again.  Oh, I’m not reading my Bible regularly.  Oh, I’m finding myself in the habit of being late for work.  Oh, there is a bout of illness that doesn’t seem to leave the home.  Death seems to happen often in my life right now, the grief is unbearable.  I’m not just talking about temptation, obviously.  I’m talking about anything that can hijack your life and turn your focus away from the path God has for you.  It’s not a sin to be in grief or to struggle with illness, as long as your eyes are squarely on the King of Kings.

The path back to the state of being you were intended for by the King of Kings can sometimes take longer than it took for your life to get hijacked in the first place.  Be patient with yourself.  Be released from the should’s, would’s, and could of’s.  As you refocus your attention on God, your path will slowly become clear again and you’ll find yourself back on track.  It takes time, and it takes being kind to yourself.  Jumping all over yourself because you got hijacked in the first place will only prolong the journey.

I’m back to step 2 with my book.  I call it step 2 because we will never find ourselves back at step 1 again.  God has already done so much, and He will use this experience you’re in to take you farther.  It may be that you’re lead back to step 2, or you may be lead back to step 10. When I was a child, I used to play Red Light, Green Light with my friends.  I did not like it when the person playing the traffic light would see me move.  That would mean I’d be sent all the way back to start.  I want you to be encouraged by the fact that you’re not playing Red Light, Green light.. Your path is moving forward.  Be kind to yourself.  Focus on Jesus.  Confess where you need to and then forget (1 John 1:9).  Follow the Lord to where you need to be.  God Bless.

 

When Tragedy Strikes

May
02

Things have been rough in my home, I’m not going to lie.  Rather than go into details about why they have been so tough, I’d rather talk about the things my precious Lord is teaching me.

The first thing is that there is never anything that you’re immune to.  Just because you’re a Christian or some other reason doesn’t make you safe.  Life is full of vulnerability, and it’s self-evident in the things we struggle with everyday.  Before you say or think the words, “That will never happen to me.” Take a moment to ask the Lord to be the Author and Finisher of your life.  He will decide what can or can’t happen to you.

There is a saying: “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.” ~Steve Martin.

I know that Steve Martin isn’t necessarily a “great” in the eyes of many people, but this quote has stuck to me ever since I read it.  Empathy is so important because, no matter how much we want to believe it is so, we are not omniscient.  There will always be a variable we don’t see or don’t understand that changes the whole dynamic of what someone else is dealing with.  Also, as I said above, anything can happen to you, too.  Before you judge, remember that fact.  Anything can happen in this sinful world.

I also want to say that sometimes things happen because you’re doing everything right.  You’re reading your Bible, your praying, your living by faith, and yet crap still happens.  I would say it’s important to acknowledge that we have a great enemy who doesn’t like it when we do these things.  He wants to leave us compromised, judgmental, and un-useful in our present state to the Lord.  That is why it’s so important to persevere in prayer, reading God’s Word, and faith.  Put on that full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10) Persevere.  Send the devil to the Lord each time he attacks.  Christ has already won the victory and he promises to us a life of victory, too.

Lastly, I have learned that ultimately it’s not the things that happen to us in this life that make us who we should be.  God may use these things to strengthen His Identity in us, but we aren’t what we experience.  We can separate the things that happen to us, the labels the world puts on us, and the actions of other people, from our true identity.  Our true identity is what Christ went to the cross to preserve.  Child of God, bride of Christ, loved, righteous, precious to God are just a few words that describe what Christ preserved on the cross.  That is who you really are, not your experiences or anything else.  Praise and thanksgiving be given to God.

 

Identity

Mar
25

I did a little cleaning on my site. I decided I have spent too much of my life obsessing over medical stuff – especially when it pertains to me. I took on an identity that was not the identity my God had for me. It consisted of all my post-cancer fears, all my medical labels, times of good interchanges with medical professionals – and bad ones.

Recently I read a book that has nothing to do with medicine, but I took away from it this quote:  “Every person in one way or another needs to exchange a false identity he or she has created for an identity in the risen Christ. Saying we’re a disciple and a [fill in the blank] creates a big problem. At the level of our fundamental identity, we are a disciple only.” Caleb Koltenbach

What this author has discovered, and what I’m discovering is that my identity is in the Lord and what he’s making me into. I am not mentally ill and a Disciple of Christ. I’m not any of my illnesses. I am separate from anything the world would like to label me. My identity is in Christ – His Disciple. That’s the only thing I am.

After beginning to realize this, I find myself asking why I’m hanging on to these false identities. I realized there is a new road to experience that is free from those false identity’s shackles. So I’m trying to mindfully refocus on who Christ made me to be.

I’m not talking about something like multiple personalities. There will always be me, just Kari.  Inside me there is not living Carmon, Karly, or Doug.  I am Kari and my personality will always be that. What I am talking about is identity, not personality.  Identity is what you, the personality, chooses to identity as – through action, culture, and beliefs.

I choose to identify as Christ’s Disciple and weed out any false identity  wanting to displace who that is and is becoming in me.  What’s your identity?

 

Crossroads

Feb
22

Today I want to talk about those moments in your life where life takes you to a fork in the road.  I specifically want to talk about the forks in the road that leave you broken hearted either way you go.  The kind where you beg God for a third option, a less painful option, but realize as your praying for this third option, God is saying, “Not this time.”

So what do we do in this situation?  I think that as we touch on these forks in our roads we also need to talk about God’s presence during these times.  I have known some of these forks before, and the truth is, sometimes I do feel God’s presence more keen, but there are times that I don’t.  It is hardest to make the right choice when your feelings don’t feel God, but I’ve come to believe strongly that these forks in our road are the times God tucks us into His Heart more than any other time.  When we don’t actually feel Him, it is in those times that the shield of faith is oh so important.

Now I want to talk about the decision.  Which way to go?  Prayer in the situation is fundamentally important.  It is through contact with God that we begin to see which road, no matter how painful it might be, is the right one to take.  If we abandon prayer and seek to make these crossroad decisions with logic or with emotion, we will invariably make the wrong choice.

Looking back at my many crossroads, I see a few things that have become extremely clear to me.  One we’ve already talked about:  God never leaves us.  Another is the wisdom God hands out freely to those who ask for it.  The final one is that God does not push you in any one direction.  You have to make the choice and take the first step yourself.  God did not make us to be robots.  He has given us free choice.  While one way is the right way and one way is the wrong way, God will not make you decide the correct one.  He always gives us a choice.

On the same subject, though, is another fundamental truth.  After and while you make your choice, no matter if it’s good or bad, our God does not leave.  Sure, if we make the bad choice it will be extremely painful in the end.  The glorious truth is that he holds us when we make the right choice and he puts limits around the consequences if we make the wrong choice.  One of those limits is that He does not abandon us.

There’s no such thing as “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  He does do that in this crossroad scenario.  However, this is the real truth right here:  God can handle anything.  Truth:  “God won’t give you more than He can handle.” So, my Dear Sister and my Dear Brother, lean on our great God and take a step into your road.  God is there.

New Years, Healthy Choices or Resolutions

Dec
30

Last year I wrote a “feel good” piece that ended up being published in Argus Leader.  My point of that article was the insanity brought on by creating resolutions that you know you’re going to break.  I implored you to take a look at your beautiful page called 2016 and come up with truths to put on it that are healthy and strong, instead of weak resolutions that you’ll want to scribble away or tear off your year after you fail.  How did you do?

Already my Facebook feed is filling up with posts about people getting excited about their new year, the plans they have, and the resolutions they are making.  I’m just as tempted as the rest of you.  Last night I was having a particularly discouraging night, so I poured out in my journal a bucket list of things I would love to see change in the new year.  The thing is, I know better than to turn those wishes into resolutions because I know how disappointing it is to put my heart and soul into a resolution only to fail to make it come into being.

We can’t force changes into our lives, they have to happen naturally.  Even if you don’t believe in God like I do, you have to believe in the practicality of the fact that your life is impacted by the people who surround you.  If they don’t choose to change with you, then you’re life isn’t going to change easily.  That leaves an interesting dynamic and choice right there.  Do I choose contentment in the life I have now, or do I let change happen by moving on from relationships that keep me stagnate?  Either choice may be a right one for you.

Resolutions simply don’t allow for healthy choices, in fact, they stunt your ability to make these natural choices.  Resolutions cause sharp disappointments which bring choices up abruptly and stunt the ability for life to move forward.  An “I can’t” attitude can move in, and instead of freedom to make good choices, you can be beset by fear that you will only make a bad choice again.  After all the resolution was a bad choice, right?  Why should you even allow the possibility of that disappointment in the first place?

I’m writing about broken resolutions and their ability to stunt choices before it can make any real changes in your life.  I don’t know how you believe, or who you live and work with, but I know you can think about it and avoid those resolutions.  Let change happen naturally.  Have a wonderfully Happy New Year.

“God With Us”

Dec
26

Christmas is over. Time to pack away my tree for another year and put away the nativity scene. It’s on to celebration of New Years now and the many foolish resolutions we make — and also intend to break — for the next year.  It’s tradition, right?

Instead of being in such a rush, why don’t we get out our universal remotes and press pause and then rewind. Let’s go back to the days after Christmas for a little family who spent their first night in Bethlehem.

Joseph is looking for a more permanent place for them to stay. Not an inn. A house. They have family here, but the scandal Joseph and Mary had become in Nazareth was not as wide spread. Perhaps Mary could go to the well without being spat on and people would begin to use Joseph’s carpentry again.  They were hopeful.  They simply wanted to live quiet lives.

It didn’t help that the shepherds pointed them out all over town, however Mary chose to believe God had a plan. She treasured both the rumors and even the moment with Anna and Simeon at Jesus’ dedication and doesn’t swerve in her resolve to trust God.

However, I can’t imagine the reservation that must be their as she saw people’s eyes following them out of the temple. Will the ridiculing start again? Will the shepherds, good intentions and all, get them ostracized? Is this really how God intended things to be for his son?

Have you been in a moment where you felt God leading you in a direction and that direction lead to many people looking at you differently that before?  Or maybe you’ve never been comfortable around others, and you would love to know that Someone has noticed you.

I’m here to tell you that, as much as we want to believe that the nativity scene is as beautiful as the scene on our tables, for the people who lived it it was pretty messy. “God With Us” they ended up experiencing was not how they imagined things would happen. Yet they chose to obey. They “showed up” and God turned their obedience into “God With Us” — the salvation of the world.

Now the question for you today is, what challenges are you going to show up for today and allow God to turn from “messy” into “God With You?”

Who Owns the Bad Stuff?

Sep
14

As I was writing in my journal last night, I began to realize that what I was writing was the beginning of a good blogpost.  It is, in fact, a truth that people struggle with all. the. time.  Who takes ownership when bad things happen to good people?  Some of us take ownership ourselves.  Some of us try to make God own it.  Some of us force the ownership on other people.  Sometimes the ownership does belong to ourselves or other people.  Like if a person steals from you, then ownership belongs to the person who took from you. If you’re late too work too many times and you get yourself fired, then the ownership belongs to you.  What I’m talking about here, though, is about bad things that happen because we live in a world that is broken because Adam & Eve chose to break it when they ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  Bad things that no one can own–like a natural disaster, a death of a desperately wanted baby, or; like in my case, the injury of an innocent baby that left a child scarred for life.

Let me tell you Caleb’s story:

Caleb is now 16 years old.  He is well-adjusted, smart as a whip, and dreams big dream.  He doesn’t let anything stop him.  He believes he can do anything anyone else can do.  He has a Totally Involved Left Sided Obstetrical Brachial Plexus Injury.  What that means is that he has paralysis in his left arm and part of the left side of his face (Horner’s Syndrome), and it happened during his birth (Obstetrical verses Traumatic).

I remember his birth as clearly as it was yesterday:

There came a moment when the doctor said, “Uh-oh, we have a problem!”

Michael remembers looking down at Caleb and seeing that his head and neck were out, his cord was rapped around his neck, and that the cord was white because it was pinched off and not giving Caleb the life-giving fluid he needed to get through the rest of his birth.

The nurse called, “Code Pink!”, and the room filled with more people than I could even count.

Some were up on the gurney with me, some were holding my legs.  The doctor had three minutes to get my son out before he passed away.  Nurses were pushing on my belly.  I was screaming in pain, even though I had an epidural.  My husband was bending over me trying to calm me down.

I kept screaming, “God please help Caleb.  Don’t let my Caleb die!”

Then the two and a half minutes were done.  He was out.  No sound came from my baby.  His first Apgar scores were so low.  Then came a soft cry and I knew he was alive.  The neonatal doctor came over to my bed and leaned over with Caleb in his arms.

“I have to take him, but here he is.  There is something wrong with his face and arms.  Otherwise, we think he’ll make it,” He said, then he was gone.

I turned to Michael and said, “Go!  Go with him.”

I was left wondering what had happened, shivering from loss of blood, and my body broken.  Later I found out that I would need extensive surgery to repair my pelvic floor.  So who owns this tragedy?  I could blame the doctor, and yet my son is alive because of her quick thinking.  The truth is I spent a long while after Caleb’s birth blaming God.  How could He allow such a bad thing happen to an innocent baby?  I slowly came around to the truth that God was not to blame.  The truth is that He was instrumental in delivering my son from his death, or even brain damage due to oxygen starvation, or Cerebral Palsy, or many other possibilities that could have come out of a birth like that.  God, when allowing bad things to happen to His servants, always puts boundaries around those bad things.

Then I turned my attention to myself.  I blamed my body.  It became apparent that I had never dilated to a full 10.  Doctor’s could never explain why, saying only that I must have had a “man-like” pelvis.  So I told myself that I had injured Caleb.  I told myself I somehow controlled my womb and my pelvis and it was my fault.  Do you see how silly I was?  I had no control over this situation.  Only last month I finally found out the exact truth of why Caleb was injured.  Through the advancement of the last 16 years, we have a new CT method that shows a clearer picture.  They were able to see my pelvis and womb and found that I have both a tilt and a heart shape uterus, making it impossible for me to ever be able to dilate to 10.  The truth is, that if Joshua my oldest, had been only a few ounces bigger, he too would have been injured or possibly would have died at birth.  God, instead of doing something bad to our family, did many good things.  He has allowed our children to be alive and only allowed the worst to be a disabled arm that doesn’t even stop Caleb from doing anything he wants to do.

I would love to be able to assign blame for every bad thing that happens to me.  It feels like closure.  It feels then like it has purpose.  The truth is, though, as I have worked through the realization that there is no ownership to be given to anyone in the case of Caleb’s injury, I have also come to realize that there is no less purpose in bad situations that happen to people where ownership can’t be established.  Things that happen to us find their purpose when we allow God to do His thing in us.  That’s when the tragedies of our lives start to become purposeful and have true meaning–when God makes them into something for His glory and honor.

The Bible says that our world is broken and waiting for the renewal of creation.  Romans 8:18-22 says, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”  Someday God will fix His creation and there will be no more of this brokenness and sorry.  We can look forward to that day.  Until that day, we can find solace in knowing that we can trust God to give purpose to the things that don’t seem to make sense or that no one can own.  Bad things just happen to good people sometimes.  That’s just the world we live in.  That’s why we look to the future.

Revelations 21:3-4, “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

 

LifeLight Festival

Sep
04

Every Labor Day weekend here in South Dakota thousands of Christians get together for a free Christian music festival.  It’s a chance to see some of our favorite Christian musicians.  For instance, this year we have, so far, been entertained by Mandisa, Remedy Drive, Sanctus Real, Rend Collective, and Red.  Tonight we see Michael W. Smith, Lecrae, and many more of our favorites.  I think we take this festival for granted.  It’s free, but it costs LifeLight a lot of money.  I have never lived anywhere else that allows for this type of gathering without protest of some kind.  Truly amazing experience.

As I was in the mosh pit worshipping the Lord during Rend Collective’s performance, I was struck by all the people around me who profess to be Christians and who were singing along to their music.  It was a beautiful experience to be surrounded by so many people worshipping the God that I serve.  How many are going to go on there way and truly serve God throughout the week, I don’t really know, but at that very moment, we numbered in the thousands worshipping the God of the Universe, praising His Name.  Yet, I was acutely aware that God saw ME in that crowd and was honed in on MY worship.  It was an amazing experience.

The theme of this year’s LifeLight seems to be “Overcoming”–not through our own strength–through the blood of Jesus Christ or Savior.  He is the great Overcomer.  He saves, He heals, He overcomes adversity, and He is in control.  For me this theme is precious during a time when I don’t feel very much in control.  I’ve been struggling with my OCD and with some past experiences.  I’m trying to stretch and grow and allow God to heal. So to go to LifeLight and hear this theme has been truly encouraging.

At first, I must confess, I was disappointed this year by LifeLight.  They didn’t have as many concerts and not as many vendors have come this year.  I thought it was going to be a boring year.  However, the quantity may be low, but the quality of concerts this year has been superb, and for that I am so thankful.  God has been at work.

I want to end with a lyric from one of the Rend Collective songs that touched me the most:

No greater name, no higher name
No stronger name than Jesus
You overcame, broke every chain
Forever reign, King Jesus

Every giant will fall, the mountains will move
Every chain of the past, You’ve broken in two
Over fear, over lies, we’re singing the truth
That nothing is impossible

~The Rend Collective

Relax. Let God.

Jul
06

This week has been one of those weeks where my emotions have decided to pick up their signs and take to the pick-it line.  I feel drained and frustrated with trying to figure out exactly why I feel so anxious and emotional.  Added to that, after months of really not feeling sick at all, my body has decided to take a hiatus at the funny farm, because none of my doctor’s precious labs that he loves oh so much can explain why I feel oh so sick.

So, am I insane?  Even more of a personal question, have I somehow gone off the radar spiritually?  Am I angry at someone/God?  Am I angry at my situation?  Have I given into depression?  Have I sinned and God is punishing me?  These are all honest thoughts that go through all sincere Christian’s minds when bad things or bad days happen, or just when our emotions decide to go on a rampage.

I have tried to put a substantial concrete reason to why I feel so crappy right now.  I’ve finally realized today, though, that there is no logical reason for it that I can fix.  Sometimes crappy things just happen.  Not because of anything we’ve said, or done, or are going to do.  Not because of anything we can control.  They are just there.  There because, I believe, Satan wants to see if we’re going to give up, curse God, and die! Or are we going to stop trying so much and start trusting God for His answer.  They sound a little similar, just that the “curse God” part is switched for “trust God” and we don’t have to die… at least not yet.

I have to admit, I’m still trying to figure this out.  How do you “try less”.  These emotions are so strong!  How do I fight them?  How do I control them?  It’s so tough when they make me so crabby!  I keep trying to find answers to why I feel this way so that maybe then I can make them go away.  Yet, I realized today that’s not the answer.  The answer is being OK with feeling the feelings.  It’s OK that I feel anxious.  The Bible does say be anxious for nothing, yes.  But, what it means is, when you feel anxious, give it to God.  Don’t fight the anxiety, trying not to feel it.  Just acknowledge it’s presence and then tell God about it.  Then God’s peace comes.  Sometimes you gotta do it over and over and over again throughout the day if you’ve got anxiety like I do.

I know that the hardest thing to fight is the idea of looking dumb.  The symptoms of anxiety can really make you feel dumb and look dumb sometimes.  I hate it when anxiety crops up and the most inopportune time.  I want to look smart and with-it, clever and genuine.  Not fearful and dismayed!  The best thing to do is try less.  Be honest.  Be sincere.  It’s OK to be a little nervous when trying new things.

What if your emotion is not anxiety?  Is it anger? Shame? Fear? Frustration at not being perfect? What is your challenging emotion? Grief?  All these feelings are what America has labeled negative, but what I would like to encourage you to learn to see at positive and OK to feel and accept in yourself as you give them to God a little at a time.  True they can overwhelm you if you ruminate in them, but if you’re feeling them to then pass them onto God, you’re going to be OK.  Don’t squash them down to try and hide them.  God already sees.  Don’t try to control them, they will get too big.  Just try less and give them to God.  Relax.  Let God.

Humility & Self-Esteem

May
19

As a Christian I am familiar with a few Christian buzz words that we all learn to either adore or abhore.  Two of those words are “humility” (to adore) and self-esteem (to abhore).  They are complete opposites in the Christian faith and they are both treated as appositional to each other.  A true Christian, it is believed, can’t be humble without being self-deprecating.  Self-esteem preaches the idea that you aren’t self-deprecating, right?  That you actually choose to accept and love yourself for who you are created to be and who you are.  Humility, it is believed, comes from the verses such as:

Luke 9:23. “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me”

James 4:10, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Humility is honored, Self-esteem is put down and made fun of.  I have spent years being confused and disturbed by the teachings of humility that I have gotten in my past.  If humility is truly self-deprecation, then why does God put such emphasis in Scripture about giving people gifts of the Spirit and having us use such gifts?  He obviously wants to use us in His Kingdom and use our strengths.  I doubt he wants us to worry about how we word what we say or how we say things, such as:

“I am gifted to write, by the grace of God…”

Just because we say “by the grace of God”, doesn’t change the fact that we said what we are gifted in or make us less or more humble.  I think it’s OK that I can acknowledge my gift of writing.  I also don’t think God needs me to play the game of adding a “humble add-on” like “by the grace of God” because it’s already a given that everything comes from God and everything can be taken away in a moment’s notice.  I could have a freak accident where I lose my arms and then my writing is gone, right?

Humility is knowing and understanding that our gifts are there to be used by God, but that they can be removed at a moments notice and being OK with that that truth.  Can you be OK with that truth?  Can I?  The trick is holding everything with hands palms up and fingers flat.

It’s OK to accept yourself, to even know that you’re “good enough”.  After all, God felt you were worth it enough to come down as Jesus to die on the cross for your sins in order to establish a relationship with you.  Self-esteem, with the latter thought in mind, is not so bad, is it?  Self-esteem with the thought that everything and everyone should look at you and keep you in mind as the next best thing to the Prince of Peace is not OK, of course.  Balance is the key.  Keeping in mind why we are good enough is a good idea. Knowing that we don’t have to play mind games or word games is also OK.  Christian Lingo needs to go and we need to just be ourselves.  The “ourselves” that God was OK with coming down to Earth to save because He loves us dearly.

James 4:10 is about being humble when we are confessing our sins, if we look at the whole passage.  It’s so easy to look at one verse and take a concept and twist it.  We must look at the whole passage to find the truth of the scripture.

Luke 9:23 is talking about sacrifice in the midst of service for the kingdom.  It has to do with the “open hands” concept that I spoke of earlier.  Although it does speak of humility, I believe, it’s not speaking of self-deprecation.  Self-deprecation is never spoken of in scripture.  That is a worldly concept that is a replacement the devil brought in to confuse and deceive Christians in order to side-line us and make us not useful for the Kingdom of God.

So the next time you feel tempted to be self-deprecating in the place of humility.  Remember who you are in Christ.  Remember your gifts God has given you and try a little honoring of those gifts God gave you– not with word games– just with honest honor to the gift God gave you.  Yes, it’s OK.