Just who do you think you are?
Wrong information can get you lost very quickly in life. Especially if you aren't sure of who you are or you don't understand the purpose you have been given.
I know my own road to failure and every stop I made along the way. I know it so well I can drive it in the dark, backwards, with my eyes closed. Some folks provide perpetual reminders of the roads I’ve traveled and where I have made wrong turns. It’s like they have hacked the location services of my phone or GPS and think they know where I’m going next.
Those geocaching and maps in the wrong hands have added turbulence to my travels, my story, and life and the waypoints all come in the form of shame, guilt, doubt, fear, embarrassment, insecurity, humiliation, resentment, regret, and you get the picture.
Now, I like being mistaken for certain things for instance, being to young to have grandchildren or, I like being mistaken for being a mountain of a man because I am in many ways and in others I’m really not but, what I absolutely despise is the inability of many folks in Christianity to see each other through the lens of Jesus. There seems to always be a bad detour or a dead end offered by those who don’t want to really understand or discover the journey that the Lord has us on.
For instance, being mistaken as someone not worthy of being used in God’s kingdom is not only unbiblical but it’s a contradiction to the command to bear one another’s burdens in love. You can also contrast that perspective with those who will flatter you with empty characterizations of who they think you are but nevertheless they are the type of descriptions that feed my ego and pride or validate my status among the spiritually elite and my flesh gravities to the glory in self generated accolades because they can make me feel better about myself. This is why When I dialogue with others that I tell them that I thank the Lord for them and leave it at that.
Now, both instances whether negative or positive have the equal power to superficially shape what I believe about myself and my identity? Even the most positive characterizations I’m given, or award myself, have the power to define or disillusion my identity. The truth is, I can be a victim of not understanding who I really am in either direction, and have often lived in a state of mistaken identity during certain times throughout my life. Many of us have painful proof of this and it causes us to become professional in the business of marketing ourselves.
When I am mistaken for my age, it makes me think that I’ve unlocked the secret to longevity or that I am the picture of health when I know I am not! I always have the potential to become an idolatrous commodity that I work hard to sell in order to keep the compliments flowing and my stock rising.
In contrast, when I am referred to as a “liar”, “adulterer”, or a “failure”, it reminds me of my sin and incites deep emotions that range from guilt and depression, to rage and vengeance. It also spurs me on to contradict the negative names attributed to me.
If I am not careful, instinctively I become my personal PR man. In fact, it is painful proof of a sinister system of checks and balances.
I'm so glad God agreed with me!
In His economy, I am bankrupt. I am every label that has been attached to me: idolater, liar, adulterer, coveter, thief. The collateral I have collected is worthless against my debt. I have boldly labored as the sole proprietor in my own corrupt marketing business. I write checks as if I have endless resources. But in reality, even when I think I’m in the green I am completely in the red—broke and working a dead-end job selling a worthless product. Furthermore, because of my bankruptcy, God sent Jesus as my substitute, not only to pay my debt in full but to make a deposit of righteousness that will never run out.
All the titles we spend a lifetime trying to make or break, Jesus says “charge them all to me.” He announces his one job in Luke 4: to set the captives free. Free from our foolish attempts to fool ourselves and others. Free from the bondage of business gone bad. Free from the mishaps of mistaken identity. Free from the rise and fall of our stock. Free from the terrible titles we achieve in public or private. Free. He provides permanent labels of identity for us like; forgiven, righteous, accepted, beautiful, and beloved forever—no matter what. For me, being given His identity also gives me mine and declares exactly just who I think I am but how I roll!
Who do you think you are!
Food for thought!
Had some ruts in your road? Step into the Sweet Spot!
It has always troubled me how that in our church culture there is a constituency of wounded believers, who have been cast off, and estranged from the body. I equate it hitting the potholes and being stuck in the ruts! Why? Well if you spend a lot of time in the back country on a motorcycle, you know that potholes lead to ruts that can eventually dump you off on the side of the road so, in that way I can relate! Oh, don’t get me wrong! It isn’t in every gathering of believers and it may not even be visible from the outside in most cases. But in some settings, there exists a philosophy, amongst those who would rather not have their constituents exposed to ruts or potholes and who would rather just leave them well enough alone. Things stay tidy around the parking lot that way and many folks are left to get out of the ruts of life on their own. Here is one of the potholes I have seen unfold in my own life and personally in the lives of many others.
First, Mathew 18 happens!
Mat 18:15. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Correction is given, confession and repentance comes as we work through the process with others and we gain a brother or sister. It may not come over night but it does come! However, to often this is where the process ends in many cases. There are wounds, estrangements, and messiness that will have to be worked through, no doubt about it! But, we revert to the use of cultural terms like “walking alongside” on the outside and then to keep things clean in the camp, we punt and go on defense, leaving our piers as far down field as possible. The possibility of Galatians 6:1 ever happening becomes just a missed opportunity and fades into the past, rather than being a priority. Primarily, this happens because it would have been uncomfortable or beyond our willingness to see it through. Things stay clean, the messiness is gone, and we get to propagate the idea that we did our part! Meanwhile, we leave the brother or sister that we initially gained in limbo, exposed to the accusations and condemnation of the enemy, and a missed opportunity for healing in the life of the sinner. We pull them from the rut of sin and leave them in a new rut of condemnation. While I was personally making an effort to deal with my depravity and crying out for help, those who initially helped me see my sin, (for which I am very grateful) also cultivated estrangement, the idea that I had abandoned my friendships, and to this day have not been willing to practice Galatians 6:1. I have forgiven them and love them but I still experience the estrangement, and I wonder if they have or ever will forgive me. I will continue to pray for restoration, knowing that it may not come until heaven.
Gal 6:1. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
I share this for many reasons;
Most importantly I realized that even though some of my piers and friends had placed me on the other end of the field, that is where I would find my strength, perspective, liberty, freedom, dependency, and intimacy with the Lord!
If your story looks like one big rut, or you have felt abandonment, insecurity, pride, religiosity, or condemnation. If you have repented and know that Christ has forgiven you, but have asked for the forgiveness of others and it has been denied. If you have found yourself estranged from a relationship in spite of all your efforts to reconcile. Know this! You still have the full on freedom and privilege to become a master in the art of living and walking in Christ. It does not require anyone, or anything! It is as simple walk in the park in the cool of the day to master ruts and potholes! (See Enoch).
Good food for thought!
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he …is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.” – Author L.P. Jacks
I love this quote. To me this is living in your “sweet spot” and fulfilling what God has called you to do. I believe it will ultimately be perfected in Heaven but is something that I have been enjoying personally and have found only in Christ!. It is not contingent on your past, what others think about you, or whether or not they accept and see you through the lens of Jesus! It is all about what he has done and is about to do in you today! The more I become dependent on Him, His grace, His mercy, My life takes on rest, and peace. I’m no longer held in the ruts but they have now become the simple challenges that develop my skills for riding through! All of this, while a great new chapter is being written into my story. This can happen for you too!
Let go of the accusations and the condemnation. Be free in Jesus. He will never leave you or forsake you even when you’re in a rut and even when others will.
He is the Ultimate Restorer! He is the Author and Finisher of our Faith!
Remember! If you focus on the ruts in life, you will mis the beauty of Gods work in your story!
How do we navigate life in a culturally driven world, with those we love, those who are religious, those who have failed, messy folks, good folks, and how in the world are they going to get along with the worst version of me as we travel?
1st, Realize, Nobody’s Perfect!
You can have all the training in theology, and doctrine, be an expert counselor and still not get it! However, Salvation, Sanctification, Justification, Propitiation, Mercy and Grace are all being worked out and into the lives of believers all around us. We must cut each other some slack. Too often in our cultural Christianity we have a knee-jerk response to the weakness of those around us. Nowhere is this more readily identified than in rants on various blogs where folks will take the opportunity to flog their masochistic constituents in an effort to drive a point home, thus slowly killing their following while elevating their self righteousness. We must begin to realize that in the case of the self righteous, they are the weaker brothers! They are not our enemy and we stand to benefit a great deal by forgiving them and praying for them.
Luke 18:9-14 KJV
9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Fix your eyes on Jesus
Hebrews 12:2 KJV
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our 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.
Jesus has a way of bringing fit and finish to even a tough project like myself. It is one of the many inherent benefits of being the son of the Master Creator. Being a man who for much of his life has been involved in construction, born of a father who was and still is a master craftsman, I can relate to the idea of looking to the author and finisher to bring completion to my present project!
See the signals for what they are.
Do you ever feel like you are traveling alone? Let the seasons of isolation turn into opportunity to develop your intimacy with your Heavenly Father. The first response to the typical isolation scenario is to recoil. I have found, however, that it is an opportunity to understand just how our Heavenly Father feels about us without the distractions and influence of others. I firmly believe that God allows these kinds of seasons to produce a great spiritual awakening in us and to prepare us for ministry in the next season. For more insight to this kind of living, study guys like Elijah at the Brook of Kidron. (See 1 Kings 17). I’m sure at some point he would have characterized His circumstances as - “for the birds.” God on the other hand was preparing a miracle at the end of this season he was in.
Set the dial to Jesus!
Hebrews 10:16 KJV
16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
Jesus is the one real resource for discipleship! I’m not implying we don’t need relationship with one another, rather I would say that true relationship and discipleship is a response to the work that Christ does on our behalf and is what His Spirit does in us. This drastically changes the impact that our disciple-making has on those who are part of the body of Christ. No mixed signals! God has made a covenant with us, His will is written on our hearts and in our minds to the point that it is transformational.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Forgive, Forgive, Forgive, and Forget!
Hebrews 10:17-18 KJV
17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
If we believe in forgiveness for all then we must begin to function properly in the area of forgiveness. The way to do this is simple. Forgive others in the same way you have been forgiven. To further amplify this idea, we must forgive in the same way Christ forgave. This conjures characterizations and words like; completely, forgotten, undeserved, just as if I’d never sinned, free pass, it’s ok now, and my favorite, “What you talk’n bout Willis.” If one’s idea of forgiveness is doling it out over a period of time as it is deserved or merited, then your idea of forgiveness is flawed!
Choose your accountability well!
A true story was shared with me about a pastor who fell in his own sinful pride and had an affair. I won’t go into details except to say that many will identify two things about the restoration process that he was made to go through. First, He did “The walk of shame.” This is to simply say that those in authority around him and ultimately those he was accountable to, made an example of him. This is where he was made to walk the isle of his church and stand before that body while he divulged the details of his sin. This is no more than man perverting the authority that was given to Christ alone. I will say no more! Suffice it to say that His peers in the denomination he belonged to have formulated the conclusion that He chose the wrong accountability partners. Sad!
What to look for
Commoner, Sinner, Saved by Grace!
Getting your head on straight.
With everything that life is handing down these days it is easy to forget that our one hope and focus is in heaven. So often I find myself wondering just how the day is going to pan out. It subtly robs me of my true focus and keeps me perpetually off point. I wake up in the morning in speculation about how people feel, having a feeling of loneliness, wondering if I’m the only one who is going through these things, and I can be prone to immediately step back into isolation, condemning myself for the failures of my past. David, a man after God’s own heart was also a man who was highly susceptible to the same everyday approach to life that we take. This is why in Psalms he makes his this proclamation for starting his day.
But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.
Praise produces a spiritual defense mechanism in the life of those who are in trouble. The powerful work of simple praise produces a supernatural work in the midst of trouble, specifically me. It was and still it is the mighty weapon for dispersing the enemy and keeping my head on straight! I have learned to make this a natural part of my life; it’s like getting out of bed! Praise and acknowledgment of Gods authority, power, strength, mercy and refuge should become the first thing out of my mouth on any given day. The rest of our day then becomes the anticipation of what God is about to do rather than despair over what He hasn’t yet!
The adversary wants to rob you of your hope of heaven, your intimacy and trust in the Lord, and a walk of simple faith. Here is a special secret for you! I have found every single day to be a day of trouble it’s true! But, by His grace I have been able to experience His strength and power, living in the hope of heaven and His soon return!
What are you hoping for today! What are you anticipating will play out through the coarse of your day? I would suggest to you this simplistic way to get your day going the right way by following the psalmist’s example!
P.S. Don’t get all wordy and theological with the Father. He is your friend!
Example for those who think it has to be profound:
Good morning Father, that’s a lot of power you’re pack’n there! I am sure glad I have your favor today. Thank you for having my back! Help me keep my eyes on you and to realize just how wonderful heaven is going to be. Now, feel free to put as much hurt on the devil as you see fit! (The rest of the conversation and praise will come).
You’ll be amazed at how well it puts your head on straight!