What Do You Crave?

Several years ago, a dietitian friend who was helping me to lost weight gave me these words of wisdom: Your body craves what you feed it. That becomes one of the major challenges of changing eating habits, the cravings that you cannot seem to stop thinking about for the food you used to eat. So, if you are like me and love chocolate, then when you deprive yourself of that treat you will crave just one tiny square of a Hershey bar. Then that creates a spiral effect, where you keep thinking and thinking about what you are craving until you finally give in. The point being, it takes time, awareness, and diligence to develop new patterns of eating and put the old ones to death. I bring this up because it occurred to me that our Self is similar to our stomach. The Self will crave more of what you feed it. If I build up my false self by seeking validation and appreciation from others (see The Reflected Sense of Self), then the Self will crave more affirmation. If my false self is supported by a role (like wife, father, pastor, or  problem solver), then the Self will demand more and more from that role. You get the picture. Example after example could be used for how we crave to sustain body image, sexuality, productivity, wealth, or anything that will support the false self and cover our sense of shame. (see The Solution for Shame) Like changing eating patterns, changing the source of our identity from the things of the world to being in Christ takes time, awareness, diligence, and...

The Reflected Sense of Self

The Bible is truth. It cannot be minimized into a user manual for life. Nor it is a guide for a more prosperous life. To say it is a science book would also be a mistake. It is the truth about our relationship with God. Man’s search for significance and God’s desire to impart it to us.   It is with that belief that a passage in the book of James helped me shed light on a psychological concept that I just became aware of: the reflected sense of self.   We all want significance and will try to find it in Christ or outside of Christ. When we seek it outside of Christ, we form what spiritual theologians call the false self. An identity that allows us to define our significance. Yet, while we would call ourselves free, in reality it is the opposite of the freedom that God intends for us.   One of the ways that we experience this bondage is that the false self must be continually propped up in order to be convinced of its significance. We become a slave to securing our identity. Significance requires comparison, so the false self attempts to define who we are in relation to others. Among others, the question “what do others think of me?” becomes of paramount importance as we attempt to feed the false identity outside of Christ.   This is where we pick up with the idea of the reflected sense of self – that out of our own lack we take on the emotions that are reflected to us by others. It is as if we...

The Solution for Shame

Shame is the fear of not being loved nor accepted. It occurs when our identity is challenged and the value we receive from that identity is interrupted. There is much research on shame and its affects on our relationships. Consensus seems to be that shame, while it is the most common emotion, is not adaptive or natural. It is destructive. In that the Bible agrees. Shame is a product of the fall. Like earthquakes, death, and the weeds that choke your vegetable garden, it is not natural; shame is not part of God’s original, very good design. It emanates from the broken image within us. Without Christ, the best that can be done is to cover our shame. That is why we develop identities. It is our best effort to repair our own brokenness and develop a source of security, comfort and significance. But, because of the daily challenges to and the subjective nature of identity, this is not an effective solution. Shame breaks through the self-constructed shell. The covering for our shame must be secure  – unchanging. That is the solution offered in Christ. The Truth of Christ does not change; He will not leave nor forsake those in Him and He does not show favoritism. If shame is felt by the follower of Christ, that is indication that the false self has allowed something to be added to Christ. It is the opportunity to examine our hearts and re-center in Christ. That is the battle of the old nature and new promised by the apostle Paul – part of God’s plan to chip away at our heart...

In Vain – Identity and the Third Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. – Exodus 20:7 The word vain has two primary uses: 1. having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s appearance, abilities, or worth, and 2. producing no result; useless. The third commandment reads simply: do not take the Lord’s name in vain. Identity is our sense of self, our significance, and how that is defined. Using the name of the Lord God in vain involves putting our self above God. Swapping the created order. So that our false self will get what it wants. Vain use involves falsely attributing things to God in an effort to get what is desired. Saying “God has called us together” or “God wants me to have this”. God does speak in very real ways to us, but we are not to use this reality as manipulation or as a way to contradict his stated word. Test the spirits, get discernment from your community of those in Christ before attributing something to God. Vain use involves making promises sealed by the name of God. We do not know the number of our days, we have no control over the sun, moon, or stars, but making an oath is a way to feel in control and win affirmation. Simply let your yes be yes and your no mean no. Acknowledge your inability to control the future. Vain use is saying false things about God. It is the opposite of honoring God, holding his name hallowed. Creating a false image of the One who loves...

Shaking My Head

I believe that the text and twitter jargon for ‘shaking my head’ is smh or #smh. And I am doing that vigorously, right now as I type. On a sports website I just read a very inspiring story about the work that Tim Tebow is presently doing, using his platform to raise money  for his charities that help children. (For an earlier post on Tebow, click here.) This is something that followers of Christ should be unified behind. Someone actively expressing their faith through their works. Whether you agree with his doctrinal stances or public prayers or his virginity until marriage, here is someone who openly states that his motivation for what he does is gratitude for what Jesus has done for him. All of us should be cheering him on in his efforts. So, what do I see when I look at the comments that followed the article? Arguments. Insults. Among Christians. About doctrine. #smh And it is not just this one instance. I’ve seen it in response to tweets, facebook posts, and instagram blurbs. There is more desire to be right rather than living in humility. That is pride and it is the source of the false self. Needing to be right is more about an insecure identity than promoting truth. How does this look to those who are not following Christ? It is contentiousness. And to those outside Christ it looks like members of the same team firing bullets at each other. Unfortunately, friendly fire is something Christians are good at. It provides a hurdle to those outside coming into Christ. Why enter into something in which members of...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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