Thursday, April 17, 2014

How Good Of A Christian Are You, Really?

I can bet you’re not as good as you think you are.

I always thought of myself as a “good girl”. I was convinced I fell under that category and I was quick to point the finger at others and call them “bad” for doing things that were sinful. (I remember specifically viewing girls in school that were promiscuous with disdain.)  Because of that mindset, I was rather self-righteous and judgmental. Not too long ago, I had my spiritual awakening and decided to make God the center of my life and start building a relationship with Jesus Christ…for real. And one wonderful, sometimes painful, part of living for God is learning the truth about yourself and other people. 

Self-righteousness is a direct insult to God and blocks His grace in your life. 

As I’ve grown in my walk with Christ, the Holy Spirit has exposed to me more truths about myself than I ever cared to know. One of them being that I had no right to call myself a “good girl” because I have no claim over such a title. No one does. Why? Because the true title for all people is sinner. The more the Holy Spirit exposed the truth to me the more I realized I was much farther from the “good girl” title than I thought. I was comfortable with a lot of sins in my life. I was proud and believed I was “better” than people. I was comfortable telling lies – and yes, white lies are still lies folks. I was self-righteous. I was a HOT MESS. I know now that any good deed I’ve ever done and ever will do is attributed to the glory of God and His power within me. It is by God’s grace and my faith in Jesus that I have been saved and NOTHING else.  To try and claim that I am the “good” would mean that I am worthy of divine praise which is wrong – God is. (This doesn’t mean you can’t receive a compliment about a good deed you’ve done; it means you must graciously receive the compliment without bragging and remind yourself that the glory is God’s and NOT yours.)

Self-righteousness is a direct insult to God and blocks His grace in your life. 

The most shameful part of self-righteousness is the audacity it gives us to be judgmental. Be honest. How many people have you seen and said, “Oh no, look at what she just did. She is such a bad person. I could never do a thing like that!” I know I’ve happily indulged such thoughts in the past. And why not? It puts the focus on someone else’s sin and allows you to “forget” about your imperfect behavior or make your sins seem “less bad”. I hate to break it to you but, SIN IS SIN. Pride, self-righteousness, sexual immorality, lying, murder, and the rest of the lot are ALL sin. It doesn’t matter how big you think someone else has sinned or how small you think you’ve sinned, you have still offended God. And if you like spending your time criticizing and insulting the abominable things that people who don’t believe in God do, I ask you to consider this: How can you who believes in God and in the evil of sin still go about your daily life in sin and claim to be better than an unbeliever? They don’t believe so of course they will openly and comfortably sin! What is your excuse? 

Self-righteousness is a direct insult to God and blocks His grace in your life. 

You cannot afford to be judgmental, of believers or unbelievers, because you too are a sinner. It would be ludicrous. You too have your stumbling moments. You too tell lies. (Don’t lie and say you don’t.) You too go around indulging all of your sexually immoral desires. You too steal. You too are full of pride and self-righteousness. You too hold grudges and fail to forgive those who offend you – even though Jesus Christ gave His life so we, sinners, could be forgiven. Imagine the hypocrisy. (Sometimes I laugh at how foolish I was to have held grudges.)

Self-righteousness is a direct insult to God and blocks His grace in your life.

If you want to be a true Christian, you’ve got to cut the self-righteous nonsense out. You’ve got to stop thinking you’re “good enough” and accept that you will forever have room to grow in faith because you can literally fail at any second of any day. (Think of the stories of recovering alcoholics who’ve gone 15, 20 years without a drop of liquor and then fall off the wagon in an instant. If you prefer Biblical references, think of King David who was called “a man after God’s own heart” – he gave into his lustful desires and murdered a man for his wife.) You’ve got to stop being judgmental. FYI, God is in the forgiving business so you need to be too. He forgave King David for murder when he repented. God has been forgiving murderers and liars and prostitutes and self-righteous folks, when they repent, for centuries - the key is to be repentant.

 Self-righteousness is a direct insult to God and blocks His grace in your life.

Condemning other people will never change the fact that you have sinful areas within yourself that you need to work on with Christ. You’ve got to focus on YOUR improvement. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you with such reverence and love for God that you are convicted not to sin, even though you’ll surely be tempted to at times.  Be merciful and encourage people that are struggling with sin, don’t insult them or beat them down! If they don’t want your help, then pray for them. And while you’re at it, pray for yourself too. Spend time reading the Word (you can find out about all the types of sin in the Bible), learning about God, and mirroring the life of Christ in your daily life. The more you realize how meek and humble Christ was, the more you accept that it makes no sense for you to be any other way. 

If the Son of God was humble, what on earth would make you think you can afford to be prideful and self-righteous? 

I now know I can’t. I have a feeling neither can you.  

p.s. If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, make sure to share it with your friends and subscribe to the blog. Thank you. 

Disclaimer#1: You are told not to judge people; that does not mean you should join them in their sin. I'm sure you've heard of the saying, "bad company corrupts good morals". If you know someone is doing something wrong, it would be foolish to tell them they are right so as not to “hurt” their feelings or “offend” them. Better to tell them the truth (gently – I’m still learning this) and hopefully inspire them to fully live for Christ than to placate their ego and leave them damned to sin. 

Disclaimer#2: Just because you are a sinner and will have temptations in life does not mean you have a “sinner pass” to go out and happily indulge in sin. What it means is that you should draw closer to God NOW, more than ever before, study the teachings of Christ, walk in faith daily with Him, learn how to exercise self-control and self-discipline, and thank God for His loving grace that saves. The more you grow in Christ, the more you’ll think and act like Him, and the less you’ll sin or even desire to sin. 
post signature 

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Moment You Find Out The Truth

It’s the moment you're about to die, of course. 

  • That’s the moment you realize that there was greatness within you that you NEVER tapped into while you were alive. 
  • That’s the moment you realize there was a great life destined for you that you didn’t experience while you had your 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, or 70+ years of life. 
  • That’s the moment you realize you made decisions based on human sight and none on Godly vision in your life. 
  • That’s the moment you realize you always said you had faith but you never actually had it in God. If you did, you wouldn’t have abandoned God and fallen into depression after depression, with addiction upon addiction, when things were difficult or when you were in pain. You would have remembered that there are seasons in life; some pleasant and some painful – the painful specifically to test your spirit and strengthen your endurance/moral character.
  • That’s the moment you realize you worshiped money, people, and prestige throughout your life and forgot there was a person called ‘God’. (Except on Sundays, of course.) 
  • That’s the moment you realize that you wasted a lot of your life fighting for accolades and praise that do NOT get to crossover with you to the other side.
  • That’s the moment you realize that all that people-pleasing you lived for and all that envy you indulged in cost you your great life. 
  • That’s the moment you realize that at least 50% of the suffering you were overwhelmed by in life were a direct result of YOUR self-centered, not God-centered, choices. (Self-control and self-discipline are integral parts of following Christ.)
  • That’s the moment you realize you should be ashamed because you did NOT live out the God-given purpose He created you for. You were too in love with your comfort zone/pity-party/ruthless ambition.
  • That’s the moment you realize that you did NOT serve the people you were meant to serve with your gifts because you got caught up in feeling sorry for yourself, or feeling others were better qualified, or feeling you wouldn’t do a good job of it anyways. (FYI, Moses had murdered a man and God still used him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and take them to the Promised Land. Paul was murdering Christians before he was converted and started teaching the people that following Jesus Christ was the way to God. Yes, God can use YOU too. STOP MAKING EXCUSES.)
  • That’s the moment you realize that the criticism and insults the world hurled at you worked – they successfully DISTRACTED you and made sure you did NOT make a positive impact in the world. 
  • That’s the moment you realize that you were self-centered, cared about only “you and yours”, and did next-to-nothing to teach people about God and encourage their spirits to walk and trust in the love and example of Christ.
  • That’s the moment you realize that you spent your life in the “pursuit of happiness” (serving yourself and yourself ONLY) when you should have spent it in the pursuit of God and His great will for your life. (FYI, that includes happiness but doesn’t end with it; there’s also fulfillment, some sad/painful teaching moments, with PRIMARY focus on God always.)
  • That’s the moment you realize your time and your moment here on earth is DONE. 
  • That’s the moment you wish you had the chance to go back in time and do it all over again the right way…but you don’t.
  • That’s the moment many people wait for to find out the truth. 

Don’t be like many people. Don’t get carried away by the world, the people in it, and your own limiting/Godless/doubting beliefs. Don’t wait until you’re dying to start thinking about living your great life. 

Start thinking about it NOW. Start asking God to reveal your God-given purpose to you NOW. Listen and accept His answer – even if it wasn’t what you expected. Start dreaming about it NOW. Start researching about it NOW. Start taking steps (yes, they’ll be small ones in the beginning) towards it NOW. Start seeking the truth about God and the truth about your life from God NOW. 

People are dying everyday - the ones you know, the ones I do, and others we don't. (The nightly news is proof of that enough.) You never know when it will be your time or mine. That should scare us enough to WAKE US UP in our lives to God and to our God-given purpose. 

So, let's get scared enough to find out the truth NOW and live in it NOW.

p.s. If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, make sure to share it with your friends and subscribe to the blog. Thank you. 

post signature

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How To Stay In Your Own Lane

You’ll need to drop the pride and pick up a little something called humility

Look at John the Baptist. He was called a “Messenger of God”. Jesus Christ himself said, “…among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist…” I mean, who can surpass such a compliment? You’d want to receive great compliments for what you achieve in life, right?

Now I want you to look more closely into the story and realize just how easily John the Baptist could have gotten off-track.

One, John the Baptist began calling people to repentance and baptizing people with water BEFORE Jesus Christ officially began proclaiming the Kingdom of God to folks. Two, John the Baptist had disciples BEFORE Jesus Christ had disciples. Three, John the Baptist was called “Messiah” by some of the people BEFORE they knew of Christ. Don’t you think those are grounds for a natural desire for competition? I mean, wouldn’t we all understand it if John the Baptist felt a little jealous of Christ and started feeling like “second in command?”

Now look even closer to what happened next. When Jesus Christ came to meet John the Baptist and asked to be baptized by John, he refused and said if anything he was the one who needed to be baptized by Jesus.

Humility. He could have gotten prideful and gladly used the opportunity to brag and announce to the audience how important he was since he was being asked to baptize the Son of God.

When the disciples of John the Baptist left him and started following Jesus, he did not try to convince them to stay but instead encouraged them to go! 

Humility. He could have easily gotten enraged that they were chasing after Jesus and leaving him feeling “rejected”.

When the confused audience, astounded by the greatness of John’s message and righteousness, began to refer to him as the “Messiah” he rebuked them and went even further to say to them, “What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.”

Humility! He could have gotten arrogant and said something like, “why yes, of course I am!” Why not? The people didn’t know any better. He could have easily enjoyed the ego-boost. 

He could have taken a host of other opportunities to compete and claim that he was better than everyone else/more important than Christ himself. 

But, he didn’t

Thank goodness. If he did, he would have screwed up his purpose and ended up as the-one-not-to-be-like. The main question: What makes John the Baptist different than most folks who end up NOT fulfilling their great purpose or having their great lives?

He was FOCUSED and FAITHFULLY COMMITTED to his God-given mission. 

He stayed in his own lane. 

He did not allow himself to get distracted. He did not listen to the fickle praise from the audience. He did not allow their words to inspire competition in himself against Christ. He did not attempt to compete with Jesus for the title of Messiah. He did not wallow in self-pity and doubt his own importance in God’s plan. He did not spend his life comparing what he had to what Jesus had or what Peter had or what any other fellow had. He stayed in his own lane, worked the life out of it, and went down in history as the greatest man born to woman. 

If you want to stay in your own lane and achieve success, you’ll need to drop the pride and pick up a little something called humility

You’ll have to stop working for the applause and praise of the audience – it comes and goes; it’s fickle. You’ll have to stop trying to show off how smart or pretty or talented or rich or whatever else you are – the truth is your gifts are from God; He deserves ALL the glory for them. You’ll have to stop wishing and praying for his/her life and start saying “thank you” and enjoying your life. You’ll have to stop trying to be better than him/her and focus on being the greatest YOU in existence. You’ll have to stop watching other people step into their purpose and start stepping into yours. You’ll have to start seeking the peace and joy of God in your life above everything else. You’ll need to drop the pride and pick up a little something called humility. So, what are you waiting for?

Go ahead already and have that slice of humble pie…or two/:

p.s. If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, make sure to share it with your friends and subscribe to the blog. Thank you.  
post signature

Monday, April 7, 2014

The #1 Rule You Must Follow If You Want To Be Successful

Stay in your own lane. 

It’s as simple and as difficult as that. 

Simple, because now you know exactly what you need to do to live in your God-given purpose and succeed at bringing your God-approved visions to life. Difficult, because NO ONE wants you to do it. 

Every second spent lusting after another’s life is a second missed achieving greatness in your own life.

Look at the society and media culture around you; the reality shows, the magazines, social media, your local community, etc. Everything is about competition. They’ve got one repeating message for you: be better than her…or him. Everything is about having more toys – cars, houses, 150 fancy purses, etc - than the other person. Everything is about being prettier or hotter than her. Everything is about having more attention or more power or more money or more praise than the next person. Everything is about a "winner" and a "loser". Everything is slowly, but surely, depleting your spirit of gratitude and generosity while filling you with feelings of inadequacy and entitlement. Everything is about what you can get so you can be “better” than the next person. Think about it. How many of the things you fight for daily are truly things YOU want? Do you really want those brand-name heels that are painfully deforming your feet or do you want it because she has it/so she can see that you have it? Do you really want that ski lodge in Aspen - knowing fully well that you can’t stand the snow – or do you want it because your co-worker posted pictures on Facebook last year when he went skiing with his family in Aspen and now they can see how much more money you have and what you can afford?

Every second spent lusting after another’s life is a second missed achieving greatness in your own life.

The problem with competition is that its purpose is not what most of us think it is – to make us the greatest or show that we are the greatest (FYI, we're not; God is). Its purpose is something far much worse – to distract us from greatness. How? By making us feel “less than” another and filling us with doubt and worry. By taking our eyes away from God in our own life lane and encouraging us to look towards another (or others) with jealousy and envy. Think about it. If you are so focused on another’s life, what time will you have to tend to your own lane, notice the opportunities available to you, and receive the blessings designed especially for you by God? 

Every second spent lusting after another’s life is a second missed achieving greatness in your own life.

People that achieve great feats in life – that significantly impact the lives of others – have no time for competition; they’re too busy GROWING and ENJOYING their life. Yes, that’s right. If you’ve been competing with someone in your life, at your job, in your family, among your friends, in your community, I want to inform you that you’ve officially been DISTRACTED. You’ve bitten the bait. You are trying to be like (or beat) him/her and have what (or more than) he/she has while the person YOU were born to be, the great purpose YOU were born to fulfill, and the peace & enjoyment of life YOU were destined to experience is DYING AWAY. 

Every second spent lusting after another’s life is a second missed achieving greatness in your own life.

I know how addictive the lure of competition can be. I’ve fallen into its trap many times. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite as ego-boosting as being applauded by others for doing or having something that is considered “better” than someone else(s). And on the flip-side, there’s nothing quite as disheartening as being considered “less than” by others in comparison to someone else. (Ask the famous ex-athletes that fall into severe holes of depression and addiction, begging for any way to stay hot and relevant in the competition, when the idolization and deafening screams from fans abruptly stops as the young & new players are ushered in.) 

Every second spent lusting after another's life is a second missed achieving greatness in your own life.

I still have moments where I feel the pressure of competition come on. The difference now is that I don’t give it room to grow. If I feel myself getting pulled into the “competition-claws” or smelling the scent of jealousy on myself, I quickly remind myself that it is all a distraction and a waste of time. Whether my ego is boosted or my ego is bruised, it is irrelevant. We have to get over our egos. Achieving success in life has nothing to do with ego-focus and everything to do with God-focus. We are here, you and me, to fulfill our God-given purpose and enjoy the manifestation of great visions in our lives. We are here to serve others and to love one another through following Christ. We are not here to compete. (I know, the reality shows tell a different story.) Neither I, nor you, will ever deserve/have the great lives we are created for if we allow ourselves to remain prisoners of competition, arrogance, doubt, and/or jealousy. 

Every second spent lusting after another’s life is a second missed achieving greatness in your own life.

You must have tunnel vision when it comes to being successful in your life. You must forget about the other people in the lanes next you and what some of them are saying to discourage you. You must focus on God, walking towards Him (through following Jesus Christ in your daily life), working diligently, and manifesting the great visions He has placed within you for your life. You must accept that God is generous and stop being territorial over Him – He will NOT only bless you. You must understand that some things you want NOW, He wants you to have and you will receive them when He wants you to receive them (even if you don’t like His timing). You must understand that some things you want, He does not want YOU to have and you must ACCEPT that (even if you don’t like His decision). You must accept that God has greatness planned for your life and no, it will not look exactly like that of another person. Remember, your name is not “everybody else”. You must be GRATEFUL and enjoy the beauty of God’s variation in life.  If you want to be successful in your life, you must stay in your own lane. 

So, stay put already/:

p.s. If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, make sure to share it with your friends and subscribe to the blog. Thank you.    
post signature