Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Courage to Change: Pride and Anger

You stand in the center of the crowd, and suddenly the tone changes, and you look up and see what appears to be spite in the eyes overlooking you. The crowd jeers and you search their faces with bewildered anxiety. You stand there for a moment in the sea of emotion and a strange feeling brews deep inside. What is this offense that cannot be disguised?  Words pour out from your mouth and stern eyes. And then what will later seem like a few harmless words, at the moment causes your pride to tick and to conjurer defense. Before you know if you are holding yourself back from the anger you're feeling, and from fighting back...

Ever wonder why some people offend you much easier than others? I tend to believe that the more a person has been "offended", hurt, or abused in a certain area, or by a certain person, they will be more sensitive in that area or to the words/actions of that person.

And yet there a certain situation or occurrence that causes us to question why we are so protective or easily hurt in a certain area that does not tie to any previous abuse or offense...And that is when we realize that deep down inside it is pride that causes us to stand on our toes and turn our backs in anger. Whether it be 'not wanting to be seen as dumb' or 'not wanting to be proved wrong' or 'not willing to take help'...often times the root is our own 'pride'...and often times in these circumstances it is because we are too caught up in 'our own view of ourselves'. Why are we so concerned with being taken wrong, or being seen as less than we are? Is it truly because we want peace with others, or is it or often times our own desire to be seen as 'perfect'...I've been pondering lately the difference in righteous defense, and selfish defense.
I think as Christians we shouldn't be so adamant about defending ourselves. Yes, that might seem hard. And yes, it does take surrender and humility to do...but truly, 'What would Jesus do'?
Was He so consumed with defending himself? No.

Why don't we act like Christ in the 'little areas of life'? I mean, Christ said that when we are hit in the face, to turn the other cheek as well. As Christians we are not to fight against persecution. And, yet why do we fight back, and why are we so quick to defend ourselves when people say things that aren't totally accurate about us? Or better still, when we get defend ourselves or get offended when someone just teases us...

Pride and Anger run 'hand in hand.' Ever notice that a lot of times 'anger' is the direct fruit of 'pride'? I hadn't really thought about that till recently.
Pride taints words and twists meanings... until what had been meant once as harmless, even friendly, is seen as horrid or offensive. Pride is a ugly thing, not just because it's not appealing, but because it is 'destructive'. It's rather strange how a person can suddenly flip, because of pride. Honestly, pride can be one of the most uncomfortable and violent emotions ever felt. Yet, pride is not just a 'feeling' but a 'state of mind'. Pride is the root of many sins, such as jealousy, rebellion, selfishness...and pride can cause us much regret.
Don't let any one fool you, pride is not a silent thing that can be contained. Pride leads to anger, and we all know anger cannot be hidden long, sooner or later it rages, and can even destroy everything in it's path.

Pride can easily creep into a person's life without them even realizing. The fact is we all have 'expectations', but what if those 'expectations' aren't really  much more than our desire for selfish 'adherence from others'? We all want to be respected, we all don't want to be overlooked, or poked fun at, but it's very easy for our self defense to premature, or even unnecessary. That's when we have to check our pride, and ask ourselves, 'why am I doing what I am doing?'

I think it is so easy for a man's desire also, for what he calls 'justice' to become only a desire for 'control' or 'selfish gain'. Or is it a many times already 'that' from the start? The truth of our motives bare fruit along the way, and throughout the "fight".

What does it mean to be more like Jesus? Does it mean perhaps letting go of our pride and passion for 'self justice'? Jesus wasn't 'recognized' for who He truly way by most, nor was he treated with respect by most.
That makes me think about how I react to petty misunderstandings, and when I feel a finger pointed at me unjustly, and blush at how easily I am effected or ticked off. It makes me marvel at how humble and meek Jesus was. He was truly amazing.

In this would we will have tribulation, but be of good cheer...for 'He has overcome the world'...

As Christians we must set our sights on Jesus and eternity. It is the selfish man, or the man who's eyes are set on earthly fulfillment and gratification who sorrows and angers over his 'lack of respect' from others...There is always a complaint, because man is always failing to show him the "respect" and "understanding" that he deserves. If we always have a mindset of 'expecting the best treatment' we only lead our tempers to explosion.

Christ was not interested in 'proving' himself or making people 'bow' to Him while he was on earth. He served others and sacrificed himself, and his ego. If we are too concerned with our treatment and what other people think about us, we will never serve others or love others freely and boundlessly. The way to put others before ourselves is not only in actions, but in 'expecting little', yet 'giving much'. How much greater is it to serve a person who is 'undeserving and does not recognize your sacrifice at first, nor "puffs up your ego?" This does not mean we should think that "abuse" is 'righteous' in the eyes of God...but when it comes down to not receiving the expected "attention", "affection", or "gratitude" that we 'think' we "deserve" we should 'think again'. How much are we willing to sacrifice? How much is 'too much' to let go of for the cause of godliness and becoming more like Christ?... Sometimes all it is that we need to 'sacrifice', is our own 'pride'.

When we truly consider how we complain and fight for 'our rights' and 'our image' we realize just how selfish and close minded we really are...

This brings to mind the story of Peter and Jesus in John 13:

3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist  5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples  feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6 When Jesus cam to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
7 Jesus replied, "You don't understand now what I am doing, but someday you will."
8. "No," Peter protested, "you will never ever wash my feet!"
Jesus replied, "Unless I wash you, you won't belong to me."
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, "Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!"

....12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, "Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and you are right, because that's what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

I like verse 14 a lot in this passage. Because Jesus tells us to do as He has done. Honestly, Jesus truly humbled himself...He who sat on high came and washed the feet of man. Wow. Amazing.

3. Do 'nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in 'humility' count others 'more significant' than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only yo his 'own interest's, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, thought he was in the  form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself ,by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. - Philippians 2:3-7

In order to change, in order to let down our pride, we need to have a different view of 'ourselves', we need to stop thinking 'so seriously' of ourselves, and realize that we are no better than our neighbor. Pride starts from thinking too highly than we ought of ourselves, or having too high of standards for ourselves and how we're treated by others. How does one let go of pride? Perhaps by following the example of Christ, and realizing that humility is more honorable than pride, and reaps better fruit.

God, please help us to let down our pride, and surrender our egos. Help us to think more like Jesus, and to walk in humility and not selfish passion. God, may we only ever act out of love and in meekness, and not react in pride and unnecessary anger. Thank you for the example of Christ, and thank you for your Spirit which convicts us and can empower us to live godly and holy lives.
We hand over ourselves, and ask you to give us the proper view/prospective of ourselves. May we think of others as better than ourselves, and serve even when we are not appreciated.
Thank you for your love. We believe that humility is rewarded, and pride is punished. We want to be 'yours' and 'a part of you', so Lord just like Peter help us realize that the path you'd have us walk is surrender to You, and not selfishness. And God help us not to be easily offended, and when we feel like we are persecuted; help us to keep our mouths shut as did Christ when he was judged, and care more about Your view of us...for you know us completely as 'we are'... pride and all. ;-)

Next:  Blog post: About the Character of Sherlock Homes: The first blog post of many under the title 'Fiction Characters and What We Can Learn From Them'.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Trusting in God's Promises

Most all of us have dreams, or goals that we hope to accomplish or obtain in life. But along with those dreams and goals we have anxieties. Anxieties that those same dreams and goals, won't come to pass, or that we won't obtain them. Ever. 

Have you ever felt like though, no matter your fears, that God has promised you something? Perhaps you haven't actually heard His voice wake you out of a deep sleep, or reveal himself and his promise to you in a vision...or maybe you have...yet, perhaps you were made aware of God's promise to you in another fashion; though the words of a friend, in your quiet time with God, in his word, a sign... confirming occurrences, or words that appear over and over again to you... However you were awakened to  the "voice of God", He did "speak to you", and you know it...Sometimes you may 'doubt' the fact that God made a promise to you, but you know that He ‘did’. How do you know? Because even when you may fear that perhaps God didn't promise something to you, still, deep inside you keep 'waiting', you keep 'expecting' what you hope for, to one day happen. You haven't given up on your desire for ‘what’ God has promised...but perhaps you just don't know if God will really keep his word in 'fulfilling it'? 

'Promise' definition: 
Noun: A declaration of assurance that one will do a particular thing, or that guarantees that a particular thing will happen.
Verb: Assure someone that one will definitely do, give, or arrange something; undertake or declare that something will happen.

Ever read the story of Abraham in Genesis? If so, did you notice that almost in every chapter of his story God tells Abraham that he shall have his own son…but Abraham has to be constantly reminded of God’s promise to him, because what God promises seems impossible.

Genesis 12: 1-2 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your Father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a ‘great nation’ and I will ‘bless you’; I will make your name great….

Then in chapter fifteen:

Genesis 15: 2 But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I ‘remain’ childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir. “ 4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. “ 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you ‘can’ count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be”. 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Then in Genesis seventeen:

Genesis 17: 15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18 And Abraham said unto God, “O that Ishmael might live before thee! 19 And God said “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shall call his name Issac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant and with his seed after him.”

Notice here how Abraham says unto the Lord; “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” There are a few ways one might take this, but when I read it I think of all our failed attempts to ‘bring about’ God’s “will” in our lives. We do this, and we ‘do’ that, and there comes a time when we look up and ask God “O if only my attempts, if only my works could bring about your will!” But that's not the way it goes is it? We cannot 'make' providence happen in our lives, only the Holy Spirit can do that. If it were 'us' that made all the good things in our lives come to pass, and our dreams be fulfilled, then life would be all about 'us'. And it's not. What I think is that, if a man can 'make' happen his dreams all without God's help, then there's good cause to believe that his dreams were never Christ Centered, or focused on anything but the gratification of 'self'. Worthless dreams, that will not live after the individual is gone. I don't know about you, but I want what I do, my dreams to make an impact on the world, and those around me. I don't want something that will only bring happiness to 'myself'.

In Genesis eighteen 10- 14 God's messanger tells Abram and Her husband again, that they shall have a son.

And in Genesis 21:1-3 God's promise is fulfilled:  And the Lord visted Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken.....5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Issac was born unto him.

Sometimes God's promises take a long time to be fulfilled, but wow, He 'always' keeps his word.
Notice it took 25 years in this case, for what God promised concerning Abraham to come to pass. He was 75 when the promise first came to him that he would have a son, and 100 years old when it was fulfilled. Isn't God amazing? His timing is perfect. He perhaps waited until there was no possible way Abraham could 'do it on his own', and did the "impossible". I tend to believe God likes doing that. He comes/acts when we realize that we can't possibly make our dreams come true on our own. His promises are like tickets. Tickets that never expire, nor are made void by impossibility. The train will 'chug' no matter the weather, no matter what. God's promises are true 'garantees'.

Sometimes though we get tired of waiting for God to 'answer our prayers' or  'keep his word' and in result we go to other things, or go for 'second best' or even doing things the 'world's way' (sinning) to get what we take the place of what 'God has promised'; like Sarah and Abraham did in involving Hagar in their desire for a son.  Genesis 16: 2- 5. Notice though what happenes when we 'jump the gun' and don't trust in God's promises? We bare fruit that doesn't line up to God's perfect will. I feel like we have the tendency to do the same thing, we we go to things, or do things that we know 'isn't what we should be doing' because God has promised more to us. But when God finall does fulfill his promises to us and our lives...we regret our hasty actions that we did when we didn't trust God would act on his promises; just like Sarah and Abraham did in Genesis 21:9-11...

God always keeps his promises, and fulfills what he has promised.

So what sort of promises has God made to you? There are some promises that God has made to all of his children.

He has promsied that he will never leave us or forsake us.
He has promised that he will supply all our needs according to Christ Jesus.
He has promised that we will be taken care of.
He has promised that those who trust in Him, He will direct their paths.
He has promised us eternal life.
He has promsied to give rest to those who come to Him.
He has promised peace and joy to those who's minds are set on Him.
He has promised victory for those who surrender to Him.
He has promised strength to those who seek it from Him.

The list goes on, and on, and on!
Do you trust God to make good his promises to you as his child?
Sometimes peace seems unibtainable. Sometimes shadows hider your sight. Sometimes the night stretches long into the morning. But peace can be yours, and the light can penetrate the darkness that surrounds you.

Trust in God. And for those of you who feel God has given you dreams, goals, visions...made a promise to you of a better life, or a life of influence...Don't settle for less. Joy comes with the sun rise, and one day you will wake up and God's will has had it's way in your life. If God has promised anything to you, you can be asurred that he will fulfill it in your life. Trust in the Lord and lean not unto your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6

Go with God. And keep your eyes on Him. He is God over all impossibilty, He is 'God' and you are not.  Imagine all that you could do to make good possible, make your dreams possible...God can do far more. Have faith.

Philipians 1:6 -  God will complete His good work in You.