Month: March 2013

When You are Burned

I recently heard a conversation where a person was speaking about their fear in trusting a new friendship because of having been burned in a past friendship.  This is a conversation that most of us can certainly understand and may have even had ourselves.

People have burned us, and we have likely burned some people ourselves, at the least, without knowing or intending to do so.

So, what do you do when you get burned? Everyone get’s burned, but not everyone handles it well.

Here are some tips…

1) Focus on Managing Yourself and Who You Become

When people burn us our emotions are injected with adrenaline and we usually have an impulse to react in some fashion or another. The greatest temptation that comes from being burned is to loose your sense of identity as a complete, whole, loved, and valuable person. Being burned has a way of surfacing our insecurities and fears hoping that we will conclude, “Something is wrong or lacking with me.” That’s why the most important thing when you are burned isn’t in what you do, it’s in managing who you are and who you become.  It is out of your sense of self that every other emotion and action flows.

The most important thing when in the midst of a relational conflict is in how you manage yourself… emotions, identity, and actions. Who we are in the face of being burned will determine who you become and maybe even what becomes of the situation.  Spend less time thinking about how to react, what to say, and what to do next, and much more time on centering yourself on your faith in who you are in Christ, your righteousness, wholeness, and position in Him.  If you will focus on your faith in who you are in Christ, your emotions and actions will take care of themselves.

Like the burning bush in the story of Moses, in Christ, we can become people who, though burned by others and circumstances, we are not consumed by others or circumstances.  Managing who you are in the midst of being burned will ensure that no person or thing can steal your joy, peace, identity, and integrity. No person or thing is worth that.

Learn what you need to learn about mistakes that you may or may not have made, but don’t base your identity on them or your worthiness of having peace and joy in your life.

2) Move On, not Backward

When people burn us, the situation will likely need to be addressed in some fashion or another.  Keeping your peace, joy, identity, and integrity will ensure you handle things well. Yet, at some point, there will be a time to move forward.  Bitterness, anger, jealousy, frustration, and alike will need to reach their expiration date.

When people burn us, the second temptation (loosing you sense of self being the first) is to lose your willingness to trust in people and/or a better future. Forgiveness does not mean restoration, so automatically re-trusting the person or circumstance that burned you is not something God is pushing you to do. In fact, that could be a significant move backwards, not forwards. Yet, creating huge barriers around your heart and life that no person or circumstance can penetrate is not moving forward either.

Perhaps what is needed to avoid being burned again is to move slower, listen more to your discernment, set better boundaries, or not let your insecurities get the best of you and cause you to rush into things too soon.  Perhaps you would benefit from some Christian counseling to help you navigate things better in the future and identify current blindspots and patterns.  Not learning from whatever happened would be a huge step backwards. Yet, not having hope in the future and a desire to position yourself to trust and believe again is not moving forward either.

Don’t let people or circumstances steal your desire to love and live.  God has promises over your life that you need to live out. Be who you are and live the life you are meant to live. Never let being burned by others consume your passion and potential. Shake off your shoes, learn, and move forward.

God isn’t going to use the people who burned you in the past to water your future. If they aren’t with you, then certainly don’t try to drag them along and keep them in your life. Emotionally release them from your being and move forward.

3) Find Relational Rest 

Faith is the foundation of relationships. And by faith, I mean your faith in Christ and His work in your life. Believing in who you are in Christ is the key to relational rest.  When you have relational rest, you aren’t running around trying to attract people and opportunities into your life.  Rather, you are trusting God and resting assured that the people and opportunities that need to be in your life, God will bring into your life. You don’t need a person or opportunity to prop you up or complete you, you are already complete and standing tall in who you are in Christ.  You see yourself as one who reigns in life, not one who requires relationships to feed and sustain them.

Relational rest allows you to be who you are in Christ without fear.  Insecurities are pushed aside and Christ-security is moved center stage.  You can truly love without losing yourself and sucking the life out of others. Love becomes much more about giving to another and much less about getting something for you. When people or circumstances burn you, God’s grace for your life, His identity in you, and the promises He has over your life quickly dampen the hurt, frustration, bitterness, and injury. Indeed, you can truly rest in your relationships knowing who you are, who God is, and His promise over your life are firmly and eternally established.  You may get a bit stirred, but you are never shaken.

The more you place your faith in who you are in Christ, His Grace, and promise over your life, people and opportunity will come running to you.  You attract in others and in life what you believe about yourself.  People will be attracted to the Christ in you when you believe in the Christ in you. They will come looking for grace, when you believe in His Grace.  Believe in the best of Christ in you to attract the best of others to you.

It’s hard to rest when you have been sunburned, it’s harder to relationally rest when you have been people burned. Turn to Christ, and who you are in Him and you will find rest. Trust me, it works. Better yet, trust Him and His work in you!

“Hi, I’m Jesus”

Hi, I’m Jesus.

I love you.

Sure, people say a lot about me. They believe different things.

I have been by your side… all the time, all along. I was there before, during, and after.

Everything.

I created. Yes, you.

No, things aren’t perfect. My love for you is.

I am God, with God. Always on your side, from His side.

What does it take?  I gave it.

Completely.

Nothing left to do, everything left to believe.

Some get on their knees, I hung from my hands.

For you.

Don’t sign up… please don’t. Believe in.

Realer than real isn’t surreal. It’s Truth.

Me. Into you.

New life.

I’m hugging you right now. Feel it?

Holding you.

I could do this forever.

Please?

 

-Chris Kratzer

Is Your Telescope as Big as Mine?

As a Christian leader, I have seen the value of having “vision” and “purpose.”  Both are important aspects of leadership and life. If you look at my ministry, Identity Church, you will see lots of it.

Yet, I believe there is something deeper and more powerful than the concepts of “Vision” and “Purpose.” In fact, I am inclined to say that the concepts of “Vision” and “Purpose” have perhaps been overplayed, giving the impression that Christian leadership and life is simply about discovering and living with purpose and casting a vision of a preferred future for people to follow.  Some Christians and leaders have a kind of telescope envy. Who has the biggest vision, projects, accomplishments, and sense of the cultural trends for the future? Are you completely and thoroughly dialed into God’s exact, specific, and surgical purpose for your life?  Is your telescope as big as mine?

Make no mistake, God uses vision and purpose, but believe it or not, they are not foundations for Christian life or leadership. Rather, I believe the biblical concept of “Promise” is the foundation for Christian life and leadership, and missing in so much of modern, Christian life and leadership. We have indeed, in my humble opinion, placed the cart before the horse. We have placed vision and purpose, before promise.

What do I mean?

“Vision” and “Purpose” are things you work on.  Like putting together a puzzle, we see the big picture and it’s function and start working to put the pieces together.  We see the top of the mountain, believe we are called to reach it, and begin our climb.  Our faith may be utilized and required along the way, but the foundation is our sense of calling and our efforts in climbing.

“Vision” and “Purpose” are inspiring as they bring to our life levels of meaning and direction. But, for many, the attraction to these concepts is connected to the adrenaline that comes from  believing in and clinging onto a hope that one can become something greater and do something better through primarily our actions and efforts.  God may give us a sense of “Vision” and “Purpose,” but we must “work it” for it to materialize. Therefore, “Vision” and “Purpose” typically end up appealing to a desire to perform our way to a better future and becoming a better person who has a better, more significant life.  They call up the resources and hope of our flesh to bring us to a better reality and future.  We all love visionary and purposeful phrases like, “I think I can, I think I can” and the courage for progress these words solicit.  Yet, the inner warrior they conjure up is merely that, an inner warrior of flesh and bones, who is at best, trying to work out something spiritually great in and through one’s physical resources.

Conversely, the concept of “Promise” can’t be worked on, it can only be “lived out” through faith.  As Christians, we are all heirs of “Promise” (not “Vision” and “Purpose”) given to us through Abraham.  The powerful “Promise” that was over Abraham’s life is over our life, through Jesus Christ. It is God’s promise over our lives (and the lives of others) that is foundational to all life and leadership. It was this promise that led, enabled, and assured Abraham his destiny, identity and his significance.

In fact, in the verses below that articulate the promise of God over Abraham’s life and ours, notice the absence of vision. Abraham was directed by God to go to a land that God did not reveal to him from the beginning. He would only see it when he arrived. Furthermore, notice that the pendulum of blessings and accomplishment are heavily leaning towards God’s working, not ours. The foundation is faith, not vision and purpose. Abraham was never applauded for being a man of leadership-vision and life-purpose, but for being a great man of great faith.

 

Genesis 12:1-3   The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Genesis 22:15-19   The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Galatians 3:29  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will carry it onto completion…” 

 

There are many other passages that speak to God’s “promise” over our lives. Comparatively, there are significantly less that speak of vision and purpose.  The Promise of God over our lives is not future reality to be obtained, but present realities to be lived out.  What are the details and applications of this Promise for us in the here and now?

In addition to our salvation through faith in Jesus Christ , there are several profound applications from these verses…

Because of the “Promise” God has over our lives, we…

1) Reign in Life – We live above our circumstances and surroundings. This is not a future possibility, but in Christ, a current reality. It’s not about what you do, it’s about who you are and what has been promised over your life. The Name of Jesus has become your name through faith. His Name is above all names.

2) Rule with Christ- We have divine power and authority now and in the future. The Kingdom of God is a “now and yet to be” reality. Present or future, in Christ, we are rulers with Christ. The world does not rule us. We are leaders in every way in every place. This is our position. Faith is what brings this reality into reality.

3) Blessed to Bless the world- We have prosperity from God that leads to generosity. True Grace received never leads to living a selfish, lazy life. Rather the opposite. God’s prosperity is attracted to faith in the Promise. Prosperity… spiritually, emotionally, and physically are ours now.

4) Relational Prosperity- We are whole and complete in Christ and able to truly love others from and out of that completeness.

5) Divine Greatness- We are the righteousness of Christ, seated with Him in the heavenly realms. This is a current reality, promised over us. You are greatness before you ever do anything great, and because you are great in Christ, everything you do, by faith, is great. Greatness is not something you achieve for Christ, it’s something you are in Christ.

6) Constant Significance– Regardless or where we are and what we do in life, we have divine significance because of who we are in Christ and God’s promise over us. Before your actions are ever significant, who you are has become significant through faith in your new identity in Christ. When you truly take hold of your identity in Christ through faith, you can’t help but change the world whatever happens from there.

These are the real-life realities of the “Promise” that we are heirs to, right here, right now.  All of these applications of God’s promise over our life happen effortlessly through our faith. They are promised over us and received by us and worked out through us by our faith. They will prompt our actions for sure, but they will not require our work. Big difference.

“Promise” begins and ends with God working in and through us. Our faith is what materializes the “Promise” in our lives.  The foundations of promise our not connected to our performance but rather God’s working and our faith.

The “Promise” of God over your life does not require having “vision.” In fact, our own sense of vision may in fact eclipse our ability to sense what God has “promised” over our lives. Where “vision” bends our sense of purpose in life as being centered around our actions and accomplishments, “Promise” directs our sense of purpose in life to be centered in our faith. One leans towards relying on human responsibility for its fruition, the other leans on believing in God for its fruition.

In fact, “Promise” is a current reality that is lived out in life now. “Vision” is a future reality that is worked on for it to be materialized in the future

Should we throw out “vision” and “purpose?” No, absolutely not! Both are valuable and important. But they must never become foundational nor birthed from anything less than faith in the promise of God.

How can you apply this teaching? Here are a few suggestions…

1) Focus on who you are now in Christ more than what you should do for Christ in the future. Place your focus on what Jesus has and is doing in you today, not what you will do for Him tomorrow. Put much more value on the size of your faith in the present work of Jesus in and over your life, not the size of your telescope into the future.

2) Believe in your position in Christ as one who reigns in life and rules with Christ. This will change your whole mindset and living as you deal with challenges, circumstances, and responsibilities in your life.

3) Don’t spend your energy on becoming significant and successful, put your trust in Jesus that because of Christ and His promise over your life, you are and everything you do is significant, right now. You are great because He is great in you. Live from greatness, not towards greatness.

 

You Are Loved

At some intellectual level, most people “think” God loves them to some degree or another. Usually, it is perceived to be with a certain  measure of conditions or limits. Yet, nonetheless, in our minds, we embrace the thought that God loves us. But, do we “believe” God loves us?  Big difference. Believing God loves us moves us from thinking it to be true, to knowing it to be true.

In many relationships, people ask each other, “Do you love me?” Sometimes, frequently.  The reason why they continually ask is because though they may think the person loves them, they don’t truly believe it. The repeated questions seeks to convince themselves of what they are not convinced.

Jesus once said, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”  Truth that isn’t believed can’t help you. If you don’t believe a person loves you, the truth of their love can’t get through to you. Our thoughts are important, but our beliefs are perhaps the most powerful force God has given to us. Through belief, and belief alone, God moves in and through our lives.

Do you believe God loves you? Your answer to this question can be one of the most influencing realities in your life.

Conversely, there are many people who are quick to declare their love for Jesus.  Modern Christianity has nearly made a religion out of our love for Jesus.  In fact, it’s very easy today to leave a Christian bookstore, church service, or conference with the very real feeling, “after hearing or reading all that, I can never do enough for Jesus, nor love Jesus enough” And just when you think you are making some headway, someone writes another book, speaks another message, or develops another conference that raises the bar once again with the reality, “there is something more that you aren’t doing now that you need to get after.”

Somehow, we have believed the lie that it’s our love for Jesus that authenticates and increases our closeness with Jesus. We actually believe that when Jesus said, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” he was actually giving us a command He expects we can and should fulfill. The truth is, Jesus used that statement to show us out. His admonition is purposed on giving us a window into the reality that we can never live up to the standards of God and His Kingdom. Our lives before faith in Christ in His finishing work on the cross are as good as dead. No effort, service, act of worship, sacrifice, or pursuit from us can ever bridge the gap.  Furthermore, after salvation through faith, no effort, service, act of worship, sacrifice, or pursuit authenticates nor draws us any closer to Jesus. And for sure, none of it pleases God without being done from a foundation of faith in God’s work, not our work, His accomplishment, not ours. It’s as if we have turned our faithfulness as followers of Jesus into a way to convince ourselves of what we aren’t convinced… God loves us and His Grace is sufficient.  We have turned our Christian acts of service into a repeating deep, spiritual question for God, “Do you love me?”, “Is your love for me, real?” “Did it work?” “Is it enough?”

In fact, contrast two people in the Bible, the disciples Peter and John.

It was Peter that boasted of His love and service for Jesus.

‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’ ‘I tell you the truth’ Jesus answered, ‘today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times’, But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the others said the same. -Mark 14:29-31 

Peter was insulted that His love and faithfulness towards Jesus were questioned.  He was so confident in his following abilities and service record that to suggest there would be any chink in his armor of devotion was less than an easy pill for Peter to swallow. Peter lived with the spirit of the Law in his heart that believed that closeness with Jesus and the authentication of one’s faith could be achieved through performance. It is this same spirit that is behind what we find today in the performance-driven Christian.

Yet, what was the result? Peter’s boasting of his love for Jesus was quickly followed by his denial of Jesus, three times in fact. Maybe Peter’s heart was in the right place, but His faith was in the wrong place… himself and his love. And it didn’t take long for that foundation to break down.

Contrast Peter with John.

It’s interesting that John refers to himself not as the disciple who loved Jesus, but rather “the disciple Jesus loved.” Now, we might think this was something other people said of John, but  it’s only in John’s own writings that these references are found. John is the one that says Jesus loved him. Is John boasting that He was loved and the other disciples were not, or that he was loved more? No, not all. Rather, John simply has a sure sense that He is loved by Jesus, and stated such. He didn’t just think it, he believed it. Was he boasting? Perhaps, but only of Jesus’ love for Him. In fact, he apparently equated his identity with Jesus’ love for Him so much that he uses this phrase instead of referring to himself by name.

For John, he didn’t just think Jesus loved him, he believed it all the way. It wasn’t about his love for Jesus, but Jesus’ love for him. Where did this leave John? Not denying Jesus in some distant dark corner, but rather reclining right next to Him.

The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. -John 13:23

The more you boast of Jesus’ love for you, through faith, the reality of Jesus closeness to you becomes real. You find yourself with a deep sense of peace, closeness, and rest in the power and presence of Jesus.  Your life and living is not from a spirit of the Law (performance) as it was for Peter, but from a foundation of Grace.

In fact, Jesus once said this to Peter…

No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” John 13:8

Once again, Peter was placing his performance as the foundation of his faith. He was so consumed by serving Jesus and promoting his love for Him, that the thought of being served by Jesus and the importance of such cut against the grain of his mindset and maybe his ego.

The truth is, none of our service to Jesus can draw us closer to Him nor establish our faith. In fact, according to Jesus, unless we receive from Him, we have no part in Him. The way our modern Christianity portrays the Christian life, you would have thought Jesus had said, “Unless you wash my feet in the water of your worship, devotion, sacrifice, and followship, you won’t belong to me.”

With people, it is more blessed to give than receive. But with Jesus, there is no blessing unless you receive, no matter what you give What does God want you to receive? His love and Grace for your life!

You are loved by God, receive it by faith today. Let Jesus wash your feet and serve you. Let Him pour His Grace out for you with all that you are and need.  Let Him give you rest. Boast of Jesus’ love for you, not your love of Jesus. Don’t live your life trying to wash His feet, let Him wash yours. Let His love get through to you through believing it.

It’s this faith that pleases Jesus and receives the blessings and abundance of God for your life. What God wants most from you is for you , by faith, to let Him serve you, not you to serve Him. That’s Grace.

You are loved, believe it!

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10)

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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