I have a child who is in the process of a vertical learning curve related to blame or responsibility. This is a nice way to say that blaming other people facilitates irresponsibility & this is no bueno.
These conversations challenge me to look at areas in my life where I might be blaming people & not taking responsibility for my actions, words & attitudes.
I’m seeing with stark clarity that the attempts to blame others limits my ability to grow & improve.
Are there places in your life where you seem quagmired? Is it possible that you might need to think about being proactive & taking responsibility for the things you can change?
Let’s be sure that we let the Holy Spirit speak truth into our hearts so that we don’t deceive ourselves, limiting how much we grow & improve.
I’m currently watching my friend’s daughter use a laser pointer for entertainment, with their cat chasing the laser. She shines the laser on the floor & the cat pounces on the red dot, only to find that the dot has leaped beyond his grasp to another spot on the floor. Looks like it could provide some amusement for at least several minutes.
Seems like the devil gets us in this game as well. He dangles something shiny in front of us, we pounce & find that the shiny bait evaporates to reappear somewhere else. We think that being pretty is the same thing as being significant. We think that being smart makes us valuable. We think that achievements or promotions make us important.
While our looks, intelligence & achievements are important, let’s remember that our value & significance is because Jesus loves us, full stop 🙂
“Bow down to me & I’ll give you all that you see.” This was the final temptation the devil tried against Jesus at the beginning of His ministry. I’ve been thinking about the 3 ways the devil tried to tempt Jesus – against His flesh, worship & power / authority.
It seems to me that the devil uses the same schemes on us. He tries to tempt us with flesh stuff. He tries to sabotage our worship of God using alluring idols (money, image, pride, intellect, etc). And the devil endeavors to undermine the authority God has given us, telling us that we are frail, powerless, disabled & incapacitated. I think the devil’s number one tool is deception. This is reason alone to snuggle into the Holy Spirit, our Spirit of Truth, so we don’t fall prey to the devils’ efforts & schemes.
Be sure to read my book, Heavenly Help, so you can stay in synch with the Holy Spirit & out of synch with the devil, the enemy of your soul!
“How come all these awful things have happened?” Ever ask God this kind of a question? I think probably everyone alive has asked God some variation of this question & the Bible shows people asking God the same stuff.
I’m reading about Gideon & I seriously appreciate his honesty with the angel at the beginning of their conversation: If God is with us, how come all this stuff has happened to us? This was in reply the the angel’s salutation, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior”
Gideon’s initial behavior & words didn’t really confirm that he was a valiant warrior & if we are honest, there are lots of times when our behavior & words don’t express that we are valiant. Nevertheless, God knows our substance & potential so God speaks to our true self rather than the smokescreen insecurities we wear. Not only does God call us by our true identity but God also helps us know who He is, as Gideon acknowledges when he experiences God as the Lord our peace in Judges 6:23-24.
So let’s make it a premium value to be honest with God so that we can honestly know God 🙂
Seriously, the enemy of your soul wants to deceive and steal your identity every second of your life & often we are totally clueless to these efforts. It’s his oldest trick from the beginning with Adam & Eve. This book by my friend Robby is super helpful & brand new!!
I’d also strongly encourage you to buy: Do What Jesus Did Also by Robby & totally a blast!!
I had a friend who wrestled with anorexia & bulimia. It was an entirely awful thing to watch her in this struggle & I couldn’t grasp how she could think she was overweight when the scale said 72lbs & she was like 5’7″. Despite numerous indicators that she was not fat or overweight, she still kept this mindset & it ripped me up. As she struggled with this challenge, I did my level best to be a supportive friend but there was nothing I could do to change her perspective.
The vision she had of herself was defective & didn’t match truth, so this vision was inherently destructive. If we aren’t careful, our perspective & vision can be smoked with deception & distortion by the devil. This is why it’s absolutely critical that we live in Romans 12:1-2. Don’t be conformed to the world but be transformed by renewing your mind. Let’s choose power vision rather defective vision 🙂
Sometimes, I’ve learned lessons that I need to unlearn. For example, I learned to be highly independent & have always been a “do it myself” person. While its good to be independent, it’s better to be inter-dependent. So my “unlearning” is teaching me to be less independent & more inter-dependent, particularly on the Holy Spirit. This idea sounds good in my thinking & feels right in my heart, but the practical execution & roll-out of this unlearning can get kind of tricky & a little scary sometimes.
Some important ingredients that go with becoming more inter-dependent on the Holy Spirit include:
time & schedules: unexpected delays, mishaps & schedule busters never catch the Holy Spirit unaware
flexible: adapting to the Holy Spirit means that I don’t always get my way
trust: being uncertain or even insecure serve to remind me to be more trusting in God rather than getting freaked out
people: lots & lots & lots of lessons with this ingredient, to be sure
I recently read about how Jacob tricked his dad & brother to get Esau’s birthright & blessing – definitely shifty for sure. Whenever I read how Jacob’s mom put him up to being deceptive with his dad about getting his dad’s blessing, it makes me twitch because of the smoke & mirrors manipulation scheming. I find it positively revolting that Jacob & his mom would be so deceptive with their family, conniving, tricking & undermining trust. It’s repulsive to me because their actions totally sabotaged any trust & ultimately intimacy / connection they may have had with their family – maybe this trust never existed in the first place.
Nevertheless, for me an important take away is that when people are shifty & deceptive, there’s no real or grounded connection with them. Ultimately, it’s all just smoke & mirrors.
Going through airport security in foreign countries can be a very interesting experience, to put it mildly. The security in some countries is nothing more than a suggestion & in other countries, I’ve had some experiences that I just don’t talk about. But the whole point is that they want see past a person’s surface presentation, X-ray vision.
It seems to me that the ability to see beyond the surface is really important. So many times in our lives we can be distracted & even deceived by mere appearances. Some people look amazing on the surface but if you dig a little deeper, they’re a disaster in every way. On the flip side, I’ve met people whose surface appearance was far from appealing. They’re disheveled & unimpressive from a quick glance, but underneath, they’re nothing less than magnificent humans. And this is one of the things I most love about the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit has X-ray vision, knows who we really are on the inside & remains deeply committed, faithful & loving with us. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be who God has made us to be 🙂
I’m coming to appreciate what it means to compensate from dislocating my shoulder in early January. When I injured my shoulder, I tore off some of the cartiledge from the bone so my shoulder muscles have been endeavoring to compensate and they’re getting very tired of doing extra duty for the last two months. It seems to me that we all try to compensate in various ways for things that we perceive as deficiencies, shortfalls and weaknesses. And here’s the honest truth: none of us are all of that & a bag of chips. We are all flawed, masterpieces in the making, rough cut & ragged on the inside & outside.
So rather than trying to compensate by amplifying our humanity, let’s lean into God, give up some control and trust that God is working in and on us, conforming us to the image of Jesus with the power & presence of the Holy Spirit 🙂
When I was 19, I dislocated my shoulder playing intramural basketball in college & had surgery to repair my rotator cuff. Being a very smart & savy 19 year old, who knew everything & was highlyindependent, I didn’t want anyone’s help. I even remember my kind & patient roommate chastizing me about how I might possibly regret not letting people help me with my shoulder recovery. God bless my roommate – she was right & I was wrong.
Now I’m in my late 40s and have struggled with my shoulder for almost 30 years, most recently dislocating it during a snowboarding adventure. Having acquired some tread in life, I don’t want to make the same mistake that I made in my late teens, even when it means being altogether uncomfortable and asking for help.
The Bible is full of great examples of people who learned from their mistakes:
Joseph & his brothers when they came to buy food in Egypt
Moses not killing Egyptians when he returned to liberate the Israelites from Egyptian slavery
Paul stopped persecuting the church after his Damascus Road experience
Maybe it’s only bad to make mistakes when they’re the same ones over & over & over & over & over again 🙂
This morning I had some kind of medical thing to look into my shoulder that I dislocated a few weeks ago. It’s really amazing what modern medicine can do – totally incredible! As I was getting my mind ready for this new experience, I remembered Ps 51:6, “You desire truth in the innermost being & in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom”
Very smart doctors get to look into the deep parts of my shoulder to see what’s happening in there. In an interesting viewpoint, God knows the absolute truth about who we are deep on the inside & helps us to walk out these truths rather than live in brokenness 🙂
In the war on terrorism, it can get tricky to figure out who to fight. Similar to the guerrilla warfare in Vietnam, when a soldier wears civilian clothing, it’s hard to figure out that he’s a soldier until it’s often too late. In the same way, the enemy of our soul often masquerades in what seems to be various human conflicts, stresses & pressures. If we only look at the outside of what’s happening, we’ll get distracted & fight the wrong fight, rather than warring against the true opposition of our soul. Jesus says in John 10:10 that the thief comes to kill, steal & destroy.
There is a real enemy warring against your soul & more often than not, your enemy isn’t your spouse, your pastor, your friend or your kids / parents, a co-worker or fellow student. The enemy of your soul is a masquerade genius, so don’t fall for the disguise!!
The Bible is filled with people who didn’t want to admit their failures, weak spots, shortcomings & downfalls, starting with Adam who deflected his blame for eating the forbidden fruit to Eve. When God confronted Cain, Adam & Eve’s son, about his sinful intentions toward his brother Abel, Cain also tried to wiggle out of the confrontation with the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I could keep going with lots more examples (Aaron, Saul, Judas, etc) but my point is that by not owning their garbage & getting honest with God about their junk, they painted themselves into an ineffective and opaque corner. Each of them had lots of potential but their potential was compromised from their lack of honesty.
The counter-examples are equally as powerful. Consider David, after his downfall with Bathsheba and how he owned his garbage in Psalms 51. While they lost the child that came from the affair, let’s also consider that their next child, Solomon, was the king of Israel during it’s most powerful time in history. If you think about Paul in the New Testament, he’s the guy that said he was the chief of sinners in 1Timothy 1 and how the grace of God was powerful enough to change him, who was a very fallen and love-less man. Paul was tremendously & powerfully used by God after he humbled himself and let God change his heart.
For each of us, let’s sidestep the denial and deception trap and live in synch with the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus calls the Spirit of Truth 🙂
Yesterday, Joan Rivers died and this was big news for various circles. Honestly, I didn’t really know much about Joan Rivers until her death. Thankfully, my husband knows a little something about everything, so he quickly brought me up to speed. Having looked through some of her style of comedy, it’s not what appeals to me, except on one very important level. She maintained an element of truth in her comedy, despite being coarse, biting and even degrading. While I don’t appreciate humor that degrades others, I do appreciate truth and in that way, I choose to give honor to Joan for this part of how she presented her comedy.
It’s always easy to find bad things about people, but with her passing, let’s find the things that were valuable to honor their memory moreso than maximizing their failures, shortcomings and flaws 🙂
I’m a sucker for compliments and maybe you are as well. I like to be told that I preached a powerful message, that I’m a great mom, I’m an excellent wife and I could keep going with a really long list. Compliments are frequently really helpful, unless you get them from someone who you know isn’t a friend. Compliments from people who are not your friends can be poisonous because the compliments are often insincere. If you think about it, people who don’t have your best interests at heart can and will say anything nice to you because they don’t have any “skin in the game”.
In contrast, people who are genuinely your friend will tell you things that could be difficult to hear:
your zipper is unzipped,
you’ve been really cranky lately,
your thinking is really messed up,
that’s not a good color on you, etc
In Prov 27:6 it says that the wounds of a friend are faithful but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Don’t fall for deceitful kisses!
If the devil can get you to question or doubt God’s character than you’ve moved into a very dangerous place. If you think about it, that’s exactly what the snake did to Eve in the Garden of Eden – question God’s motives and character. Consider this: God is love, so God is always loving. When we think that God is sometimes unfaithful, unreliable or not helping us, then we’ve already eaten the apple with which the snake was tempting Eve. Some things about God that never change, regardless of how we feel or what we’re going through: God is love, all-powerful, ever-present, our Helper, all-knowing and steadfast. Don’t fall for any decptions that might cause you to think differently about who God is in your life! 🙂
“I’m not your enemy, please stop fighting me!” I said to one of my kids recently. Enemies can be very interesting as I’ve seen from reading about King David in 1 & 2 Samuel. He was an interesting man and had many of the challenges in his life that we face – external & internal enemies.
David’s external enemies were people who opposed his progress – people who didn’t want him to be king, his brothers who derided him for being the troublesome little brother, Nabal who thought he was just another slacker looking for a handout, etc. We all have people & even situations in our lives that seem to oppose our progress and efforts to accomplish things & to go places. Perhaps we have external enemies to develop internal strength & fortitude.
David also had several internal enemies. In my opinion, David’s internal enemies were more harmful to him than his external enemies. Here are some internal enemies that David had, that might be familiar to us:
focus: David didn’t control his focus & therefore his passions which resulted in his relationship with Bathsheba & the death of her husband, Uriah (read Ps 51)
confronting: David didn’t confront his son Amnon about raping Tamar (Amnon’s half-sister); David didn’t confront Absalom about killing Amnon; both occasions combined to make for heartache in David’s life (killing, rejection, dishonor, rebellion, relationship breakdown, etc)
counting: at the end of David’s reign, he made a decree for the Israelites to be counted. Perhaps David wanted this census to measure his success, power, influence, etc. I don’t know why David made this census, but it was displeasing to God – some kind of wrong motive.
Let’s be attentive to the weakspots / enemies in our hearts & thinking – they can most certainly be more destructive than any external enemy 🙂
My family had a really wonderful Christmas break full of fun, snuggling, coziness, time, laughing, great food and a well needed exhale. I’m extremely happy that God gives us exactly what we need, when we need it! As an interesting side note, one of my kids had to do some extra school work for catching up in class. This child seemed to think that putting in 20% effort would be enough to squeeze by. Needless to say after checking this homework, I helped this child to have an education revelation related to effort, quality and general work ethic 🙂
I’m learning a lot from my kids that I probably should have learned much earlier in my life – but alas, better late than never! So here’s a great lesson from the education revelation over Christmas break:
I’d rather deal with the pain that can come from truth than the destruction than can come from deception.
We get to work with a really cool team of people & Tues mornings we make some time, as a team, to connect with God. This morning, we did an exercise around the definition of love in 1 Cor 13: love is & love is not. One of the things that is continuing to linger with me after this exercise is that love isn’t arrogant. I’ve been thinking about this idea & here are a few things for your consideration:
love connects but arrogance repels
arrogance is an exalted but erroneous perception of self