My Need to Be Right Really Hurts Me in the Long Run

knowledge puffs up while love builds up…(1 Cor 8:1).

Have you ever been the type of person that always had to be right? Even to the point where you felt so right about things that you believed it was your duty to help those who jus didn’t have the same understanding or insight as you?
 
Yeah, that’s definitely been me. In my own pride, I have hurt people, made them feel incompetent and one up them with my own need to be right.
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As you can imagine, this approach towards people has proven to be very destructive. My need to be right has only proven just how wrong I actually am. Paul says that knowledge “puffs up.” In the original language this word means, “to inflate, blow up, to cause to swell up.” There have been seasons in my life when, instead of building into others through the love of God I have sat fat in my own pride as my heart swelled with self-righteousness.
 
Sometimes I still see this insidious issue start to swell up in my life. There have been many moments with the Lord where I have had to ask for HIs intervention in my heart and mind and for His wisdom on whether or not I should stay silent or speak. I am finding, more often than not, the Lord is asking me to keep my mouth shut.
 
When you get all puffed up, it’s hard for people to get close to you. In all reality, most people won’t want to get close to you as you make them feel less than and not good enough. The slimmer we become with humility, the closer people will get to us and because of it, our relationships will thrive and grow. As we begin to make people feel valued, through the love of God, will build them up instead of tear them down.
 
Lord, I want to be humble. I want to treat people with love, dignity and grace. Forgive me when my need to be right and use my knowledge over love gets in the way. Instead, grow my heart in grace for others, like myself who struggle. Fill me with your love, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Paul Says It’s Better Not to Marry….Is it?

In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God…. (1 Co 7:40).

Although single, Paul understood something about marriage that is very true. It is really, really hard. I imagine he witnessed the troubles of others in marriage as they tackled the daily stresses of learning how to do life together with someone else. You see, there’s a deep refining that takes place when two lives collide and it can be very messy.
 
With each new day in marriage comes an opportunity to grow into a new person, made in the image of Christ. However, there’s also opportunity to grow more selfish, bitter and prideful. This is when marriages die. You see, people don’t have marriage problems, they have people problems and until we deal internally with our own junk, it will hurt the relationships closest to us.
 
Paul even says it is better not to marry. Although I see where he’s coming from I wonder if Paul was thinking to himself that in doing so he’d avoid some troubles in life he’s rather not have. Yet, what I have learned is that these troubles actually grow me as a person and that avoiding them can stall my growth as an individual who wants to be made more like Jesus.
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If we avoid things like marriage, parenthood and deep friendships we miss out on the opportunity to be refined into a new and better person. Yes, that’s right, a better person. One that is more kind, loving, selfless and generous. A person who learns how to love and live for something other than their own needs. A person who changes not just their last name, but their own need to always have things their way, be in control and have everything they could ever want.
 
Why do we struggle in our deepest relationships? Because we too are struggling. I cannot express the need to further work on yourself enough. It is imperative that we go to hard places in our lives, seeking to be changed by Jesus so that we can further let go of ourselves, heal, grow and change so that all of our relationships can thrive.
 
The more I love people, the more I learn that my greatest treasure in life is not the things I hold, attain or own, but the people I invest in. Yes, it’s in those relationships, when they are flourishing that I am living in the most amount of grace and love for God’s glory and for His Kingdom. Sometimes choosing the harder road and saying, “I do,” is actually the best road because it leads us down paths of transformation we would never experience without it.
 
Lord, I want to be a woman who values others above herself. I know how easily I can become conceited and selfish. Sometimes Lord, I am appalled at the thoughts that come across my mind towards others. Help me to take those thoughts captive and give them to you as I seek to live and others others like you would, in Jesus name, Amen.

What Sex Taught Me About Marriage

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife… (1 Cor 7:4).

Sex in marriage is a beautiful gift from God, but sex in marriage is not simply meant for your personal pleasure. I believe the point of sex in marriage is to learn how to love, serve and honor another human being. Paul says as a wife, I do not have authority over my own body and neither does the man have authority over his. Everything, our sexual desires, our time, and energy, in fact our whole lives are meant not for our own selves, but to serve someone else.
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This means I must be willing to set aside my own selfishness, in all aspects of my life to prioritize someone else. Can I just say, that is a really hard thing to do. Especially when your spouse needs help with chores around the house or for you to be present with them when you’d rather be busy doing something else.
 
I think what marriage has revealed to my own heart is that one of my biggest issues in life is not my spouses needs, but my unwillingness to die to myself to prioritize the needs of another person. It’s my personal preference over his that gets in the way or the fact that I don’t prioritize things like he does. Therefore, I don’t give them the same kind of value and thus don’t love, honor and serve my husband in a way that speaks to what is important to him.
 
If you’ve ever had a hard time in marriage, its probably because one or both of you are unwilling to offer up your whole self as a living sacrifice to serve God as you love and serve another person. It is so easy for me to serve someone down the street, but can be so hard fo me to serve the man I pledged my life to. Whew, that’s convicting….
 
Those closest to us often get the worst of us. The most selfish parts of us become what we offer them, instead of our very best to love, honor and serve them in every aspect of our lives.
 
Lord, I need your grace to serve my husband. Sometimes, my own personal preferences get in the way. Then, other days I choose my own desires, needs and wants over what’s going to bring him the most joy. I know that as I love and serve someone else, I am serving you. Let that be true of my life today, in Jesus name, Amen.

Sometimes I Speak Out of My Fears and it Hurts People

It is the Lord who judges me… (1 Cor 4:4).

Have you ever had someone say something to you that just took the wind out of your sails? Maybe you were roaming on cloud nine, experiencing a spiritual high with the Lord and then someone shot you down from where you were soaring because they spoke something out of their own un-health or fear?
 
Sadly, this hasn’t just happened to me, but sometimes I’m the one speaking out of my own unhealthiness, shooting people out of the sky as they soar in God’s grace. Ouch, I hate it that I’ve done that. The truth is, we will continue to snuff out the work of the Spirit in the lives of those around us until we give mastery of our lives to the Spirit.
 
We all have certain tendencies, fears and anxieties that try to steal away our confidence in Christ. Sadly, when we’re not walking in the Spirit we very quickly impress our issues on other people. Sometimes, we even think its our right or duty to make sure they know how we feel about it, because we have convinced ourselves that’s what the Lord would want us to do, when really its just our fear, pressing up against us that’s moving our lips to speak such discouraging words.
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In those moments, when someone shoots me out of the sky I have to ask myself, “Ok, where did that statement come from? Is this person speaking out of their confidence in Christ or a sinful pattern they have dealt with all their life?” If it’s ever a sinful pattern, I have to release what they’ve said to the Lord and walk once more in my confidence in Him. Sometimes though, this is hard for me, because something they’ve said to me out of their own fear now becomes a power play in my own heart trying to convince me to be afraid too. This is where I have to fight my way back to truth and not allow myself to get stuck in someone else’s need for control.
 
Lord, help me to walk in accordance with the Spirit at all times. I want to speak words of life to people and be very careful with how I use my words. Forgive me when I speak out of an unhealthy place and hurt others in doing so. Grow me in grace, instead, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

When Trauma Hits and You’re Still Grieving….

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds… (Psalm 147:3).

What happens when we feel dissapointed by our circumstances in life or by other Christians who have hurt us along the way? How do we deal with such pain? How do we, in a healthy way, process the emotions that we feel?
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First we must learn how to properly grieve and mourn. Some experiences in life are so painful that the first place that we must go to is straight into God’s arms so that He might weep with us in our deep anguish and pain. It is good to be attentive to those needs within our hearts. I am learning, for me, that there’s part of my heart that doesn’t want to let go of what I’m grieving, because I miss it and still want it to be part of my life. Yet, God is challenging me to embrace a new journey. He is so kind and gracious as He continues to comfort me as I mourn the loss of an old one.
 
I don’t understand why certain losses happen in our lives. I really don’t. I wish I did, because it would certainly make it much easier to move on in life without so much grief. Yet, maybe part of this grieving process is there to remind us that this is not our home and that a better life is coming without pain, crying our tears. Then, sometimes I think we walk through such traumatic experiences so that we can have compassion for others who walk through their own.
 
So, if you’re still grieving a loss in your life, that’s OK. Keep taking it to Jesus. He really does care and He’s not tired of you coming to Him. Until we continue to grieve with hope, we will never fully heal and sometimes, it takes much longer to heal and that’s OK.
 
Some traumatic experiences in life are earth shattering and hit us to the absolute core. In those moments, we have a choice to make, will we be buried by them, mask our grief and never heal or will we continue to allow God to go with us into the tomb of our hearts to heal, restore and make us new?
 
Lord, I entrust my whole life to you. Thank you for redeeming so much in my life. Thank you that you can take this new journey in my life and make something beautiful out of it. I want to experience your beauty in my life so I can share your grace with others. Father, shower your love upon me today, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

A Demonstration of The Spirit’s Power

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power….(1 Cor 2:4).

Our culture is filled with excellent orators and presenters, but who I wonder is filled with the Spirit’s power? As someone who speaks and prepares messages there are moments when I sense the Spirit’s power and other times when I do not sense Him close at all. Those are the times when I’ve rushed through my preparation and are seeking to just “get through the message,” so I can get onto the next thing. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? We’re always moving onto the next thing, never quite present in each moment.
 
God shows up when we are present with Him. When we are actively seeking His Spirit to join with us in the moment we are now living in. This takes concerted effort to stop, wait, hear, respond, listen and obey. Some of us never get to step one, because we never stop doing, never stop going, moving and running.
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We hardly ever still ourselves in the presence of the Lord. Therefore, we rarely, if ever, experience a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. This is true not just for those who teach, but for all who call Him Lord and Savior.
 
What I want more than anything in my life is to hear from God and to be still in His presence so I can hear His voice and respond in faithfulness. Dying to Jesus is hard and sometimes, it’s painful, but trust me when I say this, the greatest demonstration of the Spirit’s power in the life of Jesus came after He died. The same will be true for you and me. As we die to ourselves, we experience, in ways like never before, a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. It’s there in His presence that we are changed, transformed and made new.
 
Lord, I want to experience your power. I want to live in your grace. I want to stand on your truth. May my heart be still before you. Jesus, help me to remove distractions and busyness from my life that keeps me from hearing from you, in Jesus name, Amen.

It’s Easy to Worship People

Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?… (1 Co 1:13).

Paul had gained some popularity amongst those to whom he ministered. It’s easy to put a person up on a pedestal and start to venerate them in a way that is unhealthy. Paul makes it quite clear to his readers that he’s not the one that is to be praised or worship, but God alone.
 
The problem is, at least for us, we do the same thing. We exalt certain Christian leaders, singers, authors and pastors, giving them a certain reverence and awe that they do not deserve.
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If we focus our Christianity solely on what rises or falls within these leaders in our lives, we will become sorely dissapointed and disillusioned in our faith. Especially if these leaders are young and lack the maturity that is needed to truly know and understand how to lead people and how to process through ideas in a way that honors God.
 
Maybe its just me, but I think its somewhat scary that we give full ownership of the shepherding of God’s flock to people fresh out of seminary, with little to no real life, on the ground, ministry experience, but a lot of book knowledge. A 24 year old needs to be shepherded first so that they know how to be a shepherd. Too often, within our church culture we dismiss this need because it’s easier to just pass the reigns of our churches to someone else.
 
I know for me, I would have made a lot less mistakes and cared for people much better had I been conscience of the fact that I needed a lot of wise council speaking into my life and holding me accountable.
 
I think we’re always looking for a pass in the church, but Jesus calls us to become a family. If we keep passing off the responsibility to shepherd those under us we will continue to see the chips fall in the wrong direction and the church and along with its people will suffer. I’ve heard many churches say, “We just need a young pastor to come in and revive this church.” I would say, no, what you need is a church who is bought into the mission of making disciples. You need young and old in partnership together speaking into each other, walking with one another on this journey through life.
 
Our churches are so concerned with numerical growth that we forget to care for the numbers within our flock. We think that Jesus wants us to grow a church building, but His church is His people and growing people is much harder and time consuming than filling seats. I can fill a seat, but the work Jesus asks of us is to fill up people with grace, truth and love by making time for it.
 
Seek today to make a disciple and care well for the people whom God has given you. Don’t pass off the responsibility of Kingdom work to the paid staff at your church and be careful not to place them on pedestals above the rest.
 
Lord, help us to be wise within your church. Forgive us for giving people way too much power. We just love to worship people, Father, please forgive us. I know that I’ve done it, so help me instead to walk in your wisdom, always lifting you the highest, because you are worthy, in Jesus name, Amen.