Monday, March 24, 2014

The Many Facets of Pride

Pride, the down fall of mankind.

 It was pride that caused Adam and Eve to eat the apple.  It was pride that got Lucifer thrown out of heaven.  It was pride that drove the Pharisees to crucify Jesus.

And pride has been the bane of my existence since well, FOREVER.

I first recognized the boastful, arrogant, and haughty facet of pride in my heart.  It was easy to identify and begin to root out. 
But there are other types or pride in my spirit that are not so easily recognizable.  They talk a good game and cloak themselves in what, at first glance seems virtuous, but underneath is really just pride.

One of those is a pride that is often mistaken for humility.  It’s masked by what can be perceived as modesty.   This pride demeans the possessor, puts them down and declares they are no good.  This isn’t modesty or humility it’s pride. 

“How,” you say?

Let me ask you . . . What is pride?

When you strip all the trinkets and gadgets, bells and whistles away, pride at its core says what? . . .

“I’m god and You’re not.”

Think about it!  When we proceed to mock and criticize ourselves, we are really criticizing the God who made us.  We’re setting ourselves up as god because we know better than Him.

There’s another facet of pride that is hard to identify and easily justified . . . 
This pride masks itself in being concerned about what others think.  Caring more about our own reputation, our own promotion than we do about God.  It has an unquenchable thirst for affirmation.

Lately, this aspect of pride has risen its ugly head in my life.  I’ve found myself jealous at the blessings of others, envious of their recognition, and hungering for affirmation like a man who’s gone days without food.  I’ve spent countless hours feeling sorry for myself, wondering why no one appreciates me for who I really am.  I question why all the good I’m doing is seemingly going unnoticed. 

One Monday morning, a couple of weeks ago, I was driving in to work.  It’d been a lonely weekend and I was having a grand pity party in my car.  In the middle of feeling sorry for myself . . . “Nobody loves me, nobody appreciates me, nobody cares about me” . . .  I felt the Lord speak in His gentle and quiet way, “Kristi, why are you looking to others?  LOOK AT ME I’m all you will ever need.” 

It was as if He reached down and with the touch of His finger on my chin, turned my face to look at Him. 

Why is this truth so hard to remember and so easy to forget?

Why do I think approval, affirmation and success will satisfy the hunger of my heart? 

Look what the writer of Hebrews admonishes us to do, Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, FIXING our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of faith.  Hebrews 12.1-2

Lord Jesus, I let go of the pride and egocentricity of my heart.  Teach me to FIX my eyes on YOU.  Let me be stuck like glue on You!  Amen.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Live Free!

Did Jesus say . . .  

“I died so you could be miserable?"

"I gave up everything for you to live in fear?"  

 "I went to the cross so you might be chained to your sin?”

How ludicrous! 

And yet, don’t we often live trapped in fear, broken and enslaved? How worthless this priceless gift becomes when we choose to live as slaves!  

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.  A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”  John 8.34-36 (NLT)

Jesus died to set us free! 

He rose from the grave to set us free! 

He lives to set us free!

A friend of our family was a hoarder.  She had lived that way so long, her house was bursting at the seams with all the stuff she had collected over the years.  Knowing she was in trouble, she reached out to my mom for help.  After hours upon hours of work, with a select number of friends who were willing to volunteer their time, they sorted, purged and cleaned her home.  

When our friend returned, she flew into a rage and demanded that everything be put back right where it had been!

 How similar this story is to our own journey with God. . .  

 We call on Him to rescue us from our depravity.  

 He pulls us from the pit of our own making, removes ours chains and washes us clean.  

Then we turn right around and wallow in the filth and wrap back up in the shackles of our shame and guilt. 


Because it’s familiar. . .   

Because it’s what we’ve always known . . .  

Because we feel naked without it . . .  

The TRUTH is we aren’t naked and we aren't imprisoned!  

So release the chains of your guilt.  Embrace the freedom.  You've been forgiven.

It's time to forgive yourself and LIVE FREE!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Audacious Plan

The Three gathered in the grand hall for one final time.  It was a closed door meeting.    Just three.  Three who would change the course of time.  Three who would determine the path of destiny.  Three who devised a plan to triumph over all other plans. 

Tension snapped in the air like a downed wire, as they gathered around the table.  This was a plan for the ages!   

It had all the makings of a good movie; a reckless rescue mission, drama, death, abandonment, resurrection, life.  But this wasn’t a movie, this WAS life.  Eternal Life.   

Each one turned to the other . . .  

“You will watch Your only Son live in a broken world, die a horrible death on a cross.  You will have to turn Your back on Him.  Are you okay with this?  Are you sure you want to do this for a people who hate you?” 

“You will be a vulnerable baby in a broken world, you will be misunderstood, hated, bruised and afflicted and hung on a cross to die a brutal death?  Are you willing to do this?” 

“You will be called to power this venture, to expend yourself for a people who are unworthy of such love. Do you want to do this?” 

There is no hesitancy, no doubt, no faltering.  A resounding “Yes” echoes down the ages of time. The pain, sorrow and the difficulty of the plan would make the ENDING even that much more intoxicating.  

They could hardly contain their joy.  Unbridled pleasure rippled in the room like waves rushing to shore. A roar of laughter burst from the room like a rushing torrent of water and made its way throughout the heavens, pouring into every nook and cranny.  The angels paused in their activities as the merriment washed over them.  They found themselves giggling uncontrollably!  What was happening?  What were they be planning that would cause such contagious beautiful joy?  

The time was finally here!  Could they even wait a moment more to see their elaborate audacious plan carried out?    

All of this . . . this adoption, redemption plan . . . was for their CHILD.  The one they LOVED!  Their masterpiece. Their creation.  The one they have been waiting for, all this time! 

This grand design of theirs would be at great personal cost to each one of them.  But it was of little consequence.  They were ready.   Let it begin . . .  

. . . In the beginning God . . . (Genesis 1:1) 

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what He wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure.  Ephesians 1.4-5

Father, You adopted me and made me Your child.  Jesus, You found me in the depravity of my own making and bought me with Your precious blood. Spirit, You marked me as, Forever Yours.  There are no words.  No language that can ever express the depth of my gratitude.  May my life demonstrate in ways my words cannot, the thankfulness and the depth of my appreciation for what You have done for me!  Amen.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Your Room
 As a child growing up in a Christian home, I knew that I needed to have a “relationship with Jesus Christ”.   I was told that God’s desire for me was not to pursue religion but a relationship with Him.  And I was given a list of things to do to ensure that I would follow –  

ü  read my Bible every day

ü  pray

ü  attend church

ü  put money in the offering plate, etc . . .

 I understood in an intellectual way but my heart struggled to comprehend how I actually could have this relationship with an unseen God. 

And so, I struggled. It was a vicious cycle of knowing what to do, trying and failing and then the overwhelming guilt . . . round and round it went.

Why was trying to have an intimate relationship with God so hard?  I wanted it?  Why couldn't I experience it? 

One day I was crying out to God, telling Him how I longed for so much more in my marriage.  I desired my husband to WANT to spend time with me, not because he HAD to but because he WANTED to.  I longed for him to WANT to be with me.   

 Then it happened. . .  

I felt God whisper to me, "That's how I want you to love me!"  

What?!  Could this be what I'd been missing all these years?

It suddenly dawned on me that God didn't want me to spend time with Him because I HAD to; He wanted me to WANT to spend time with Him.  It wasn’t a checklist.  It was a relationship!   

God had the same longing and desire for my relationship with Him, as I had for my husband! 

If my husband saw our relationship solely as a list of duties: 

ü    Took out the trash.

ü  Played with the kids

ü  Kissed my wife

ü  Fixed the leaking faucet

I’m sure you can imagine what my response would be  . . .  And yet, that’s how I viewed my relationship with God.

Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you.  I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered.  Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.  Psalm 51.16-17 (MSG)

Why would God feel any differently about the checklist I had for Him?  These weren’t given to me so I could check them off and feel good about myself.  They were given to develop my love for God and grow my relationship with Him and absent of love and relationship they become only things to boast about, nothing more. 

John Ortberg, in his book God is Closer than You Think tells the story of his grandmother who had six children.  When asked which of her six children she loved the most . . .  "She said love for your children doesn't work that way.  She said it's as if when each child is born, another room gets added to your heart.  And no one else occupies that room.  It doesn't have to be bigger or better than any other room.   It's just theirs." 

"'In my Father's house are many rooms,' Jesus said.  One of them was added on when you became his child.  That one is yours, and no one else can ever occupy it.  It is secret to you and Him.  It's your own Sistine Chapel.  It is furnished by every moment of intimacy and wonder and togetherness shared by you and your Father. "   (John Ortberg)

If you have struggled, like me, in having an intimate relationship with God, I encourage you to set aside the checklist and just BE with Him.  He is waiting, inviting you to grab hold of this incredible relationship. He has a room prepared just for you - won't you meet Him there today?

Lord, put within us a burning to desire to WANT to be with You, not because we know we should but because we simply desire You.  May we be satisfied with nothing less.  Amen.