Sunday, June 14, 2009

Loving Ourselves

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'b]">[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'c]">[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew22:36-40 (NIV)

Loving oneself isn’t easy. That is especially so when one is fully aware of the fundamental follies and weaknesses of human nature. I believe that Jesus said that we should “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind” first because until we love Him that well, we cannot really forgive ourselves enough to love ourselves very much at all.

You might ask, “Why do you not think that I don’t love myself? I eat. I sleep. I do everything necessary to keep myself alive.” I answer, we do that out of common courtesy to ourselves. We put up with ourselves and then in the end we either come to Christ or we can’t put up with these filthy, vile, unfulfilled little selves that we just give up. It looks different to different people. Some do it by trying to bury themselves in food, fashion, movies, video games, entertainment, sex, adrenaline rushes, money or any number of other things. Others try to put an end to it by committing suicide. Others try to numb the pain, by using drugs or alcohol. It doesn’t really matter how people act it out, but we hate ourselves and do our desperate best to hide from ourselves.

That’s where God comes in. He understands us and can love us despite the junk that we so want to hide. He sees us for who we really are, His perfect creations, only needing the perfecting touch of His grace! A breath of fresh air! When we accept His grace, we gain the perspective of Christ. For those of us who have accepted Christ, we can look at ourselves and see us as God sees us. For me, this is hard. I always revert back to the old way of thinking and see myself as this failure that constantly messes up. But when I look at myself through God’s lens, I see His perfect creation in an imperfect world, growing towards Him. When I look through God’s lens, the self-hate that I hold, becomes disgusting because if I hate myself, then I am hating God’s creation that was bought at the very great cost of Christ’s blood.

“ Love your neighbor as yourself.”

After we begin to love ourselves, we can begin to love others. Part of the old way of looking at things was to expect others to fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts that only God can fill. We wanted to get all we could, but now, with the new vision of Christ, we can look at other people as they truly are— God’s beautiful creations living out their lives in a fallen world, influenced by evil, and prone to wander from the right path. Once we realize that, we need to take it a step further and forgive others for not being perfect. Just as Christ forgave us for our imperfections and we had to learn to forgive ourselves, so also must we learn to forgive others for their faults and blemishes. After all, grudges don’t do anyone any good and can lead to greater harm than good, especially for the holder!


God loves you.

He knows about the bad things in your life, but He forgives you.

You need to be aware of your fallen nature, but turn it over to God. He wants to deal with it! Let Him wash it away and when it’s gone, forgive yourself!

Be aware of the short comings of your fellow human beings (who doesn’t notice?), but like Christ, allow them to be human and show them love and grace.

Be forgiving.

Now, may the grace and peace of Christ Jesus be with you always, through your pains, fears, joys, and all seasons of life. Blessings!


Friday, May 15, 2009

A Quandry

Why is it that we go through life deceiving ourselves and others? We take special care to make sure that no one knows who we really are and in the process of covering ourselves up, we fail to see who other people really are.

God is the only one Who can see us for who we really are. He is the only one Who sees through the mask that we put on, through the veil we cover ourselves with. Before Him we are naked. Nothing held back, nothing hidden. Every shameful thing is fully exposed- every thought, fear, addiction; every ugly, sin stained part of us.

I suppose it is self preservation to hold our completeness back from other people. People have a funny way of treating other people's failures as so horrible that the people who exposed themselves, even for a moment, are so hurt that they will never be the same again. Why do people act that way? They know that they are dirty themselves, why is it that they treat others with so much superiority? It is partly because when they do so, they take the scrutiny off themselves and direct it towards the other person, so that when they slip up (as everyone is bound to do) and let the part of them that they don't want others to see be seen, they feel like maybe, just maybe they will not be judged as harshly.

Judge not that you be not judged. We forget this and go around merrily judging ourselves- our failures, fears, sins, goofs, etc.- we judge others- their failures, fears, sins, goofs, etc.- we judge by our knowledge, past experience, our upbringing, by our moral code, even by what we think is God's will. For those of us who are Christians, we are especially prone to expect other people to have the same gifts as us. We expect others to have the same passions, the same ministry, the same talents. But if everyone had the same gifts, and the same passions God's work on Earth would not be fulfilled through us, the Body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12 (NLT)

v. 4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. v. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. v. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

If only I could remember that all the time. I would have fewer misunderstandings of others. I would be more effective in my own ministry. Instead of stewing over whether or not other people are in God's will or not, I would focus on whether I was in God's will. Each person is individually accountable to God for his own actions. We shouldn't worry about what other people are doing. We are only responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, actions and beliefs. Other people may influence those things in us and we can influence them, but we shouldn't feel responsible for changing those things in others. We are each to be focused on God and how we can serve Him effectively. If others don't seem to be living up to what we think is right or wrong, we shouldn't worry about it. Let God deal with them. True, God might use us in some way to influence them, but we aren't their consciences. They are the ones responsible for themselves. Not us.

Love, in Christ,

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Purpose, God's Purpose

Does my life matter in this world? Yes, my life matters! Why would God have put me into this world if my life did not matter? God put me here with a specific purpose in mind. As I grow older, I see the story of my life unfolding. It is wonderful to watch God at work in me, smoothing out the flaws, molding me into His perfect child. Since I became a Christian, God has replaced my old heart of hatred and sin with one of love and forgiveness. Today, I struggle with the painful process of remodeling- God is tearing out the old, sinful things and replacing them with new, beautiful things, things that will make me usable as a tool to do His will. God is preparing me for something wonderful. I am not sure what it is yet, but my heart and mind are being made ready for what He has in store for me.

So far in this journey of life, I have had little opportunity to make an impact on the world. At the very least, I have not been as faithful as I should be with all the “small” things. I have been lazy here, or fudged on the truth there. In short, I have to be faithful in my own life before I can really have a true impact on the world.

I have a desire to help the poor. I want to help them rise above their neediness by helping them to overcome the circumstances that have placed them in that position. I want to show them that there is a better way and that if they have the will, there is a way to escape poverty. I want to show them that just because they are a certain color, or their ancestors always lived the same way, or they were abused, or whatever other circumstance that may apply, does not mean that they cannot do great things, that they cannot make something of themselves, or that they have to remain miserable. I want to show them a better way, and give them the tools to achieve it.

I have a desire to teach young people to be self-sufficient. I want to show them that they do not have to rely on the government to help them when they can help themselves. I want to show them that they can control their emotions and desires. I want to help them overcome the stumbling blocks, such as loose sexual standards, violent video games and television, welfare, and many other things, which this society has placed in their paths. I want to urge them not to give up their childhoods too quickly. I want to teach them to respect others, including those who are weaker then themselves. I want to help them understand that they are the ones who must decide to live good lives, and that it is not anyone else’s fault if they do not succeed. I want to be a role model for them, and someone that they can trust and look up to for guidance when they do not know what to do.

I have a desire to change the present political structure of this nation, to help to return it to the Biblical foundations on which it was created. I want to help to reform the government. I want to become knowledgeable about issues both current and historical so that I can vote responsibly. I want to help to educate my fellow citizens about the privilege of voting and about the issues that they need to vote on. I want to help encourage honesty in those in government. I want to encourage Americanism rather than partisanship. I want to be the best citizen that I can be.

I have a desire to be an encourager to other Christians. I want to help them grow in their faith. I want to help them to be bold witnesses for Christ. I want to encourage them to stand firm in their faith no matter what the consequences in this world, because the rewards will be beyond imagination in the one to follow. I want to help them overcome the temptations that Satan sends their way. I want to be someone that they can look to for help in times of need.

Most importantly, I have a desire to lead people to Christ. I want to have the boldness and the delicacy to speak to anyone about my Savior. I want to show my unsaved family members the way to Christ. I want to be a light in this dark world, pointing to the greatest light of all, Jesus Christ.

Yes, I have grand plans for saving the world from sin and injustice. I want to be a social worker, rescuing people from poverty. I want to be a politician, legislating truth and honor. I want to be a missionary, taking the gospel to the “ends of the earth.” Yes, I have plans, but I begin to wonder if they are God’s plans. What does God have for my life? Do I place all of my trust in Him to lead me where I need to go? Do I trust Him to take care of me? I sadly answer no. All of the dreams for my future, which I have so painstakingly laid out, have been apart from God. I have ideas and I run away with them, not stopping to ask, “Is this God’s will for my life?” or praying about it. God may really be calling me into a ministry with troubled teens like my most cherished dream portrays. Then again, He may be preparing something else, even more wonderful for me to do with my life. As I wait for Him to reveal His will, I am preparing for my future. I am going to college, going to church, and making friendships with strong, mature Christians who will be able to help me when I struggle. Hopefully, this is adequate preparation for what God intends for my life.

All I know is that God has something planned for me. I want so badly to know exactly what He wants me to do with my life, but I must wait on Him. Only in His good and perfect time will I be allowed to see His plan for my life. In the meantime, I must pray, read the Bible and seek the counsel of Godly Christians. It will only be through succeeding in the small tasks that God gives me that He will begin to reveal His bigger plan.

I know that God has great plans for me, but sometimes I doubt that He can do anything with me because I slip up so often. That doubt sometimes makes me want to give up. I say to myself, “Why does it matter what I do? I can never get it right.” But then I remember that I must do my best, that I must keep trying, and that God is with me every step of the way. He will lead me. It is only when I give up that I fail. One day everything will be made clear. I pray that God will give me the wisdom to know His will for my life, and the ability to do it. Like the Apostle Paul, I hope to “…run with patience the race that is set before [me], [l]ooking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [my] faith: who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Hebrews 12:1-2) When I have finished my race, I want God to say to me “…Well done, thou good and faithful servant...” (Mathew 25:21) I must carry on, no matter how long the road, or how difficult the path, trusting God to provide direction, until I reach the end of my journey.

Monday, February 16, 2009


It is hard to give it all to God. We want to fix ourselves, and become "perfect" before we present ourselves to our Creator. We, in our pride and selfishness, get so tangled up in "me" that we forget Who deserves the credit and when we do remember Him, it is often a quick prayer of want. Like, "Help me to do good today" or "Give me the victory." What we forget is when we become Christians, we give up ourselves. We become the body of Christ. I can't say how that happens. It is hard for me to believe, but I know it's true.

As Christians, we are called to live out our lives for Christ. We do our best. We realize that we aren't perfect and that we sin and we often quote Paul in Romans 7:15 as an excuse for our blunders. The problem, though, is that we keep on trying to improve. We keep working at it, working at it, trying to get good enough to please God. After all, we are His servants, right? We are supposed to make Him happy. In reality, though, we can do nothing of ourselves to make Him happy. Everything we do will be tainted with sin. Our very nature is sin and corruption and so there is nothing that we can do to make Him happy... except for one thing. That is give up, give in, stop trying. It's that simple. When we let go of the reins and let God take over, we make Him happy, and the funny thing is He will make us happy too!

May the love and joy of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!



Monday, February 2, 2009

One Day At a Time: The Joyful Life

Why is it that I am happy all the time? People comment on it, that I smile all the time and just seem to enjoy life. I do enjoy life. I do smile a lot, but I have a reason. I have Christ in my heart. Why shouldn't I be happy? Why shouldn't I be joyful? I believe that as a Christian, my call is to be a light to the world. If I am complaining about my job, or how I don't have a boyfriend, or how my teachers are unfair I am not going to be a light. When I talk about negative things too much (more about that later) I draw attention to myself. When I talk about good, true, pure, and lovely things I can only bring glory to my Creator, the Author of all that is good.

I am not blind to the bad things in this life, the little annoyances that get under our skin and tend to fester there until something happens to make us blow up. I do not deny their presence. I accept them as the consequence of living in a sinful world. After all, there is no use complaining about something that I cannot change. If I cannot change it, I won't complain about it and I will try my best to find something good about every situation that I find myself in. I got a bad grade on a test? I know how to study better next time. I got placed in a job that most people hate? Well, I will do that job to the best of my ability and make myself a blessing to those around me so that they do not hate it so much. I catch a cold? Well, I have a hard time saying anything good about colds, but at least I get to wear comfy clothes and eat chicken soup!

Do you see my point? Life is too short to always be complaining. We should live it joyfully, always looking for the best aspects of it! God is so good to us! He gave us sunshine and snow, flowers and fall, friends and family- in short, there are too many good things around us to always be looking at the bad. I believe that we short change ourselves when we focus in on the negatives. We can be really happy if we choose to be. God did not mean for us to be grouchy, grumpy, unhappy, complainers. He wanted us to be like little children. How do little children act? Happy! They are always laughing, smiling, wondering at the strange, beautiful world around them! Let's be like little children and live a little!

Love and peace!