Seeing Jesus

It is election season. From things I’ve read, if Jesus were alive today, He would support every political candidate. Or at least that is the case people make. There is a proliferation of bumper stickers saying that “Jesus is an environmentalist” or “Jesus is a capitalist” or some other such identification. Many churches teach their opinions as if they were doctrines of Jesus. Things like kids must be home-schooled or that some standards of discipleship are old-fashioned. Here is the truth: we view Jesus through the lens of what builds up our false sense of self. We want Jesus to affirm the things from which we are seeking value. Thus, we don’t see Jesus as He actually is, we see a Jesus created in our own image. Jesus did not come to affirm our broken philosophies, He came to show the world the love of the Father. When we make Jesus in our image, that leads to division rather than unity, condemnation rather than acceptance, and judgment rather than forgiveness. Jesus was concerned that we do two things: love God and love people. Loving God is about rooting our full sense of identity in Him. Loving people is a fruit of the freedom that source of identity provides. Where loving God and people conflicts with our desires we are to abandon our self. In what ways does Jesus look more like you rather than you looking more like Jesus? ————————————————— I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and...

Why Big Things?

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ – Matthew 25:21 All of us have a desire for significance. It has been implanted within us by the God who created us. In our lives, problems result when we seek that significance apart from our Creator. One of the ways that we attempt to prove our worth is by doing big things; having a big impact. The larger the impact, the thinking goes, the better our work for God. We want results to prove our closeness to God. But the verse above from Matthew says that our faithfulness is actually demonstrated in the little things. If we can stay rooted in Christ and believe the truth of who we are in the circumstances that seem insignificant to us, then we can be trusted with much. There is a temptation in the big things: we will look to them for our significance instead of God. So the pastor only feels effective if church attendance it big. An author only feels successful if they sell a lot of books. A parent determines their effectiveness by the career path of their child. A business owner gains significance from making more money. The list can go on and on. The false self seeks big things for a sense of value. God gives big things when we are secure and rooted in Him. Today at the Igniting Souls Conference that I am attending, I was reminded that impact is magnified when someone I...

Thinking Good Thoughts

Not too long ago, I was watching my daughter play in a volleyball tournament. Her team is fairly capable and manage to stay competitive in most matches. During their matches, I noticed an interesting phenomena that was true of all the teams I watched. There was a time when one bad shot led to another. As a couple lost points were strung together, heads started to go down and shoulders slumped forward. Regardless of record or score, it would become contagious. It is so easy to dwell on the negative. Mistakes are easier to keep in the front of our minds than successes. In volleyball, this caused the players to lose energy and have trouble moving forward. And I thought that this is so true in our spiritual lives as well. It is so easy to get captured by our lies. When we make a mistake or do not meet an expectation or experience a failure then what were once distant echos can become louder. I am a failure. I am ugly. I am a disappointment. I am unforgivable. I am unwanted. And the list of the limiting beliefs and false narratives that we believe about our selves could go on and on. Ultimately, these lies are the result of your focus not being on the source of your true self, the identity you have in Christ. The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian believers and told them: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8...

How Are You Addressing Your Root?

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. – Luke 13:8 All of us tend to classify people into categories. Good or bad. Saved or lost. Successful or lazy. Jesus was talking to a group of people that had assumed they were better, or more righteous, because something bad had not happened to them. In reply, Jesus confronted this belief by asking if the people who had died suddenly were more guilty or bigger sinners than others living in the same place. Then Jesus went on with a parable about a tree that was not producing any fruit. When the man who owned the vineyard asked that the tree be cut down, the caretaker made the reply that is quoted above. “I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.” Notice what the first impulse was – to address the root of the tree. In response to the lack of fruit, the caretaker did not look to the branches and leaves. The same principle can be repeated for unhealthy fruit. A problem with the fruit is the result of a problem with the root. Repentance requires that we address our root. Becoming more aware that we realize the depth to which we look to the world for significance. Authentic fruit is the result of being rooted in Christ. Having an identity that is defined by God’s love for you is an intentional process of knowing your lies and when you are prone to shame and applying truth. What areas are you tempted to root your identity apart from God? In...

Are you keeping people out?

In relationships, all of us have a part of our self that we attempt to protect. For some, the process of growing in relationship means addressing those walls and removing them. Choosing to trust and allow vulnerability. On the other hand, for others a wall seems a necessity and they work to build it up as fast as possible. A wall gives the feeling of protecting identity. If someone cannot see the real you, then they cannot reject you. A wall gives the sense of control. By controlling people’s behavior and what is acceptable in relationship, you feel like the one in charge. A wall gives the illusion of effort. Because you are working hard to maintain your wall, it feels like working on the relationship. A wall gives an excuse. When another person gets tired of trying to break through your wall, you can then blame them for the failure of the relationship. Problem is, not only do walls protect from what’s outside, they trap you on the inside. They steal your freedom. Those you present your wall to are not responding to you, but to your facade. That does not change the feeling of rejection. It is lonely within your borders because your true self will not feel loved. How are you keeping people out? Is it a compulsion? An issue of performance? Fault finding? Something else entirely? Taking down a wall required developing awareness of identity and the lies you are believing. Some of the bricks will be easy and some painful. Because of the lies, your wall is built upon sand, that is why it...

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