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The test you want to take

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else… (Galatians 6:4)

1. Are you testing your actions?
2. By what criteria? God’s standard or the World’s?
3. What’s next: where can you give God thanks? Where do you need to change?
4. What would it take for you to have the kind of pride this passage is talking about?

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Insecurity and why it’ll never go away

Insecurity is the debilitating lack of confidence that springs from too much self-loathing and fear of rejection.

The following isn’t necessarily biblical or even scientific, simply observational:

  • everyone struggles with insecurity in significant ways
  • some people struggle with insecurity quite a bit more than most
  • a few of those who struggle greatly with insecurity seem to have personalities that predisposition them for insecurity
  • most of those who struggle greatly with insecurity grew up in abnormally UNhealthy families

What’s the point of these observations? To create greater compassion for those who struggle greatly insecurity–a compassion of which I most definitely need.

Speaking biblically, insecurity is spiritual immaturity and presents opportunities for growth into greater likeness of Christ. Insecurity has deep roots into our basic assumptions and core identity. Because of this, they will never simply go away. They must be painfully rooted out, time and time again.

Our value is defined by God: he created us, loves us, sacrificed for us, saved us, sanctifies us, and empowers us to do great and significant things for his Kingdom. We are valuable.

As for rejection from others: free will is a fact of nature, a gift from God. We cannot take it away from others and make them accept us. Additionally: approval from others is fickle at best and destructive at worse. We are accepted.

Insecurity springs from at least two twisted realities.

A significant amount of “self-loathing” is necessary for biblical humility and surrender. We need to acknowledge our imperfections and sin and inability to save ourselves. Call it total depravity or original sin, we must be able to say, “not me, but You, God.”

Acceptance from others is a good thing, for we were made for community and relationships. We are better together.

HOWEVER, when we fail to accept the free gift of grace and shut down our pursuit of Jesus, insecurity quickly swells and prevails.

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Earn God’s Love

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.” (Galatians 5:6)

We may confess salvation by faith with our mouths, but in our hearts we work to keep (or earn more of) God’s love.

The proof is in our pride: the false belief that we are somehow better than others because of what we’ve done for God.

There can be no doubt, doing things for God is vitally important, essential in this way: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.” Faith must be expressed because it is a belief that is strong enough to translate into action. Weak beliefs are called opinions. And they flee fast when action is required to prove their worth.

The Galatians began in faith, but fell into a works mentality. Paul spoke definitively to correct their error.

Two questions are useful here:

  • How should my faith express itself?
  • How can I earn more of God’s love?

The first question takes a lifetime of perseverance to answer. The second is much more simple: nothing.

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undiscovered opportunities

“… it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you…” (Galatians 4:13)

Scripture tells us that Paul’s illness was a trial for the Galatians. He praised them for not treating him with contempt or scorn–implying that their response was uncommon, unique, mature.

If it was a trial for them, imagine how difficult it must have been for Paul!

The hard truth is that hardships can open doors that would otherwise be closed. When life gets difficult, we are quick to complain. We settle for mere survival. What if our goal was not to simply get through, but to be used by God in the midst of hardship.

In times of stress we may find new opportunities to be faithful. Let’s commit to a new prayer:

God, help me in this season and open my eyes to see how you are calling me to act.

 

 

 

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Why we become ashamed of the gospel

“… for I am not ashamed of the gospel …” (Romans 1:17)

What might move a follower of Jesus into a Peter who denies his savior?

The gospel calls us to be DIFFERENT, and in our world, no one likes to stand out from the pack. Just look at rebellious youths, even they all look alike (just don’t tell them that.)! Sure, the “outliers” exist…but by definition they are unique. And. Only sociopaths have no problem being rejected by others. We naturally want community, which we unnaturally pursue through conformity. to be unashamed about the gospel is to be willing to stand out and stand a part from the world.

The power of the gospel is UNCONTROLLABLE. Most of the power in the world is predictable and once it’s understood, it can be controlled. No one wants to catch a lightning bolt, but everyone knows where the location of the light switch. The power of the gospel is never subordinate. To be unashamed of the gospel is to also be humble about our own power.

The calling of the gospel is to PURITY and HOLINESS, to a life that strives to sin less. I suspect most of the time we are ashamed of the gospel because it is a light that reveals the darkness in our hearts. To be unashamed of the gospel is to admit to being sinful, imperfect.

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Speak the truth in love

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow…” (Ephesians 4:15)

The self-righteous wield the truth like a weapon of mass destruction, ambivalent to the the devastating consequences. When confronted, the predictable response follows: “WHAT? All I did was tell the truth?” Their fortress of foolishness is unassailable. Mostly.

Speaking the truth without love ignores the greatest truth: we are called to live in love. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, we cannot help someone grow into the likeness of Christ with a hammer.

God’s work in our own lives reveals a gentleness. He progressively reveals more and more of himself and the darkness in our own hearts. Imagine the devastation if on the first day of your new life in Christ God revealed to you all the things that needed to change in your heart.

I teach my children that to love someone is to want the very best things for them. What if our goal was to help others grow to be more like Jesus (this is the very best thing we could want for someone). This would lead to a mouth that tells beneficial truths in a way that they are most likely to be heard.

What good comes from telling the TRUTH?

[Jesus] is a man of truth. (John 7:18)

Why should we tell the truth, what good comes from it?

When we tell the truth, we follow Jesus’ example. He is our model, the shape our souls ought to take is his. The spiritual life is about becoming more like Jesus. This means fighting off the powerful temptation to bend the truth, even just bend it a “little.”

When we tell the truth, we keep our integrity. All the money in the world cannot buy back a shattered integrity. Telling the truth keeps our conscience clean and our sleep constant.

When we tell the truth, we earn trust from others. Without trust, true community is impossible. Without trust, influence is shallow. We are not called to live isolated, powerless lives. To connect and live with impact, we must live authentically.

When we tell the truth, we deserve trust from others. In our broken world, appearances are powerful. The force of some personalities naturally gain trust from others The triumph of people skills and charisma is this: like-ability gathers false support. Not only should we earn trust from others, we ought to actually deserve their trust.

We we tell the truth, we help others grow. It’s easy to play it safe and it’s common to avoid conflict. I’m not suggesting we look to start up confrontations every chance we get, but how many people are missing out because we lack the courage to say the tough thing?

When we tell the truth, in situations where we are tempted to cover up our errors, we face the true consequences of our actions. In these painful moments, especially when we choose to face them, we learn powerful lessons.

 

Let us commit to telling the truth, in all things, so that we might become more like Jesus and grow into the person God has designed for us to be.

a blog about the spiritual life and leadership