Month: November 2013

Why You Should Reconsider Jesus

For the skeptical, spiritually tired, and turned off.  For the hurt, disillusioned, and fed up.  For those who can’t seem to embrace Jesus past their negative experiences or views of “Christians” or “church.” Perhaps, you should reconsider Jesus, and here’s  7 reasons why…

Jesus isn’t a political party-  Despite what some have done in evangelical Christian circles to make Jesus a member of their political party, Jesus doesn’t have a political affiliation. He is separate, above, and beyond politics. Yes, Christians have political views and get involved politically. No fault there. But, any moral standards derived from Jesus are just that, from Jesus. Jesus has great relevance to politics, but exist outside of politics. As political parties claim to be more “Christian” in values and standards than others, it is important to let Jesus stand by Himself, outside of any one political affiliation.  Loving and embracing Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean loving and embracing a certain political party. One does not require the other.

Jesus isn’t a club with a membership-  At times, I think we Christians, with our churches, have done more to turn people off to Jesus than perhaps anything or anyone else. Jesus created, loves, and died for His Church. Jesus is totally into Church. But, much of what some have made church into, Jesus is not into at all! We have done a great job at majoring in the minors and minoring in the majors.  We give more concern to people who have their Christmas decorations out before Thanksgiving (and what kind of decorations they are) than we do to caring for orphans, the needy, and a host of other things that really matter.

We can’t separate Jesus from Church, but we must separate Jesus from what some have made church into. In fact, I would go so far as to say, Jesus has already separated himself from more than a few churches of today, the people there just don’t realize it.

Loving and embracing Jesus doesn’t mean you have to love and embrace every church or all the things we see happening within our Christian culture.  There are many healthy churches out there that are true to the Gospel, and Jesus wants to bless us with a healthy church experience, but there is much within churches today and our Christian culture that Jesus has distanced Himself from and so should we. Loving Jesus doesn’t require loving “club-church.”

Jesus wants to be with you- Jesus loves you, unconditionally. He is not angry with you, eagerly waiting to push you under His thumb. Jesus loves you and likes you. No, not everything we do, but so much of what we are.  Jesus wants to associate Himself with you; living with, in, and as you.  This is the essence of His affection for you. Jesus is well pleased with you and believes in you. He looks well passed what we have or have not done all the way into the heart of His creative hand and imaging of our lives.  No failure, inadequacy, or rebellion is past the gaze of His gleaming eyes of Grace and hope upon your life. Loving Jesus doesn’t mean being called out and shamed to the point up repentance and becoming the kind of person who religiously judges others. It is God’s kindness and goodness that leads people to changing their mind about Him and how to live, not punishment. Jesus loves you and is proud to call you His divine creation.

Jesus loves better than they do- No one is perfect but Jesus, no one loves perfectly but Jesus. Christians aren’t perfect. What we try to portray as being loving often falls short. In fact, in some circles, Christians aren’t loving at all. We have been known to shoot our own wounded, carelessly judge the world, and turn our noses up at people who we deem to be not as spiritual and pure as we are.

Jesus’ brand of love is deeper, wider, and greater than any Christian could consistently manifest. Yes, God loves the world through people, any over and over, God uses people to express and manifest His love to the world, often doing amazing things and having a huge impact. However, we all fall short of loving like Jesus loves us and others. We fail people, Jesus’ love never fails. We fail in loving people, Jesus will never fail in loving you. Loving and embracing Jesus doesn’t mean becoming the kind of unloving person we see some Christians display, nor does it mean that when Christians fail us or the world, that Jesus has failed, lacks integrity, or trustability. Let people love and bless you, but trust Jesus more, and feed on His supply of love the most. Then you will never hunger nor thirst again! Don’t judge Jesus by His followers, but by His Grace and love upon them, it’s the same love and Grace that is upon you.

Jesus is inside out- Despite what some Christians have made of the Christian life, Jesus is most concerned about what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside.  It’s your faith that is most important to Him, not your performance and spiritual gymnastics.  Jesus works on the inside of a person, recreating them from the mind and heart outwards. Jesus is not into behavior modification, He is into life transformation.

Loving Jesus doesn’t mean trying and striving to live up to standards and steps of religious performance and behaviors that you know you can never perfectly master all the time. It is not a life of do’s and don’ts to manage, it’s a life of faith; learning to believe and trust the right things. It’s a life of your behaviors catching up with your identity in Christ, not your identity in Christ being caught up in your behaviors.

Loving and embracing Jesus doesn’t mean getting on a treadmill of spiritual performance exercises and tests. It’s not about striving and trying to progress spiritually as you compare and contrast your life to other Christians, rather, it’s about living from God’s success in completely recreating you through His finished work on the cross, actualized in your  life the moment you believe. The Christian life is not about who you are becoming, it’s about who you have already become through His work on your behalf on the cross, received by faith alone.

Jesus is always on point- Jesus not only has truth, He is Truth. There is nothing false or faulty in Him. Debate nuances of the Bible as you will, but debating Jesus and His wisdom will leave you humbled at the very least, every time.  He is the best picture God ever took of Himself. He is God. The Messiah. The One and only who saves men from themselves.What He says works, period.  It’s always on time and on target. He is who He said He was, and what He says accomplishes what He says it will do. He is the source of all true wisdom, and His counsel in always on point. There is no One greater, nor any source of wisdom that is greater.  He is time tested, scientifically undebunkable, historically documented, and faith proven.

Loving and embracing Jesus doesn’t mean you have to leave your brain at home, nor does it mean His is finite enough for our minds and understanding to ever fully comprehend. Jesus shows us enough to enable us to have faith, and withholds enough to make sure it is by faith that we receive, know, and walk with Him. We can see and receive some of the things of God through intellect, we see and receive the everything of God only through faith. Search the world over, everything you need is already in and from Him. Believe and receive.

Jesus is better than you think- Jesus is better than life, He is life. Jesus is better than love, He is love. Jesus is better than the church down the street. He is better than the Christian in the cubicle next to you. Jesus is more forgiving, more sacrificing, more merciful, more generous, more powerful, more real, more understanding, more trustable, and more gracious than you ever imagined.  He is more capable and willing, more freeing and fulfilling. Taste and see (by faith) that the Lord is good, and your expectations will be exceeded. Hunger and thirst no more.

Reconsider. Let Him stand alone on His own nature and merits, and see how you have and never will stand alone. He is with you now.

Taste and see. Believe and receive.

 

 

 

 

Never Give Up

We all have hopes and dreams.

God puts hopes and dreams in our hearts and actually promises to carry out the good work He once begun in us. God puts purpose, plans, hopes and dreams in all of our lives, and then takes the primary responsibility of making them become a reality.

Yet, at times it seems like God is asleep at the wheel in His efforts to move our lives forward.  We go through challenges, times of waiting, and seasons where God seems silent and uninvolved. No one is exempt. If you are facing adversity, experiencing a loss of hope, and wondering if God has given up on you, take comfort in the fact that everybody must take this journey of faith.

Yet, what we believe during these times of waiting, worrying, and wondering is critical to seeing and experiencing God in the midst of it all, and most importantly, making sure we don’t give up.

Here are some important things to believe…

1) God never gives up on you- It’s that simple. God never gives up on you, His faithfulness is forever. No matter how you may feel, God is at work in your life with your best interests at heart. At this moment, it may not all make sense or seem like He is doing much of anything. But God promises that He will never leave your nor forsake you, nor will He stop short of making the very most of your life according to His purposes and plan.

2) God’s dreams for your life lie within you being yourself- The Christian life is best lived by you waking up and living. Be yourself. Trying to be someone else or something you are not will only lead to going in a different direction than God is trying to lead you. God doesn’t need you to become something in order to use you and fulfill dreams, He desires to use you and fulfill dreams right here and now because He has already made you into what He needs you to be. You are a new creation in Christ, lacking no spiritual blessing. Faith is what releases your newly created self for God’s use and the fulfilling of dreams. Don’t give up because you feel you are disqualified or inadequate. Jesus qualifies you and has made you completely adequate! Believe it, receive it, and live it!

3) God will make your life significant- Trust Jesus to do the heavy lifting, door opening, and opportunity bringing. Trying to force your way forward and make things happen will only leave you further behind. Jesus is not interested in spiritual gymnastics, just faith. Trust Jesus to create your influence and significance.  Meditate on God’s word, believe in His goodness for your life and watch your significance increase effortlessly. Trying to make a name and future for yourself is an ultimate expression of evil. It puts your trust in Christ’s performance in the back seat, and your trying and striving to make things happen in the front.

4) God is more interested in your faith than your performance- Don’t concentrate on your failures, shortcomings, and blind spots, Jesus isn’t. If your future hinged on your performance, you wouldn’t have a future.  Faith is what releases God to will and act according to His purposes in your life, not effort. Faith is what brings forward movement, not good works.  God is not punishing you or holding you back because of anything in your past or present.  Jesus paid it all. However, God is interested in your faith. Not perfect, enormous faith. Just faith. Trusting, resting, believing in Him.

5) God’s timing is perfect- Waiting is the hardest part. We feel like giving up often in times of waiting. Find me a person who feels like giving up and you will have found a person who has grown weary of waiting at some level or another. Waiting for things to get better, for things to change, for things to start moving forward etc. We suspect God is on to other things, and perhaps, therefore so should we.

Is there a time to backpedal and take a different course? Perhaps. Give up? Never. That is a card you need to take out of the deck of your life.

Wait as long as it takes. Move only when God moves. His timing is perfect. Trust, rest, and believe. He who began a good work in you WILL carry into completion. He is for you, with you, and ahead of you. Don’t lose heart, nothing is impossible with God.

For more on this subject, enjoy my ebook “Rise Above” downloadable (here).

 

 

Navigating People’s Opinions of You

God has created us, in part, for relationships with people. Relationships are a huge blessing from God. He desires for us to be skilled at healthy relationships and experience intimacy with others.

Yet, relationships can become a source of unhealth in our lives when they take on poisonous dynamics God never intended.

One such dynamic is when people’s opinions of us gain more influence in our lives than they should.  Everyone seems to have an opinion regarding just about everything, including you. Perhaps everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they aren’t entitled to have you automatically taking their opinions to heart. Between someone’s opinions of you and you taking that opinion to heart should be a lot of filters and checkpoints.

Unfortunately, it’s hard not to be negatively influenced by people’s opinions or rejections of us.  We care about what people think, but often, way too much. Some of us still hold on to negative things people have said about us years ago and allow their opinions to rule, dictate, and influence our thoughts, emotions, and lives. The good news is, it is possible to be a good listener, and a loving and a caring person without letting people’s opinions of us rule our thoughts, emotions, and decisions.

Problems with relationships in terms of insecurity, codependancy, and a lack of healthy boundaries (especially when it comes to people’s opinions of us) can often be traced to having wrong or distorted beliefs. When you and I believe rightly about ourselves, people, and relationships, we are far more equipped to navigate people’s opinions of us. Right believing is the key to having right relationships and handling relationships rightly.

Here are some things that are working in my life as I try to navigate people’s opinion’s of me.

1) Believe in who you are in Christ-   Believing in what Christ has done FOR you is important, but equally important is believing in what Jesus has done TO you, especially in our relationships with other people.  I can’t be secure in a relationship until I am secure in myself.

Jesus has made you into His righteousness; no matter what people say, there is nothing wrong with you! You are completely forgiven (past, present, and future), whole, and possessing every spiritual blessings. It is no longer your nature to sin, that was completely put to death on the cross. Sin, shame, guilt, and failure are not your identity. There is no condemnation over any aspect of your life. You are not just a child of God, but a son, daughter, king, and priest. Jesus has put everything under your feet as you sit with Him at the right hand of the Father. You are a new creation, a new species, more than human, perfectly and completely loved by God. Jesus lives not only in you, but AS you in this world. This is what Jesus has done TO you. As you believe this, you will walk in life with a new assurance, security, purpose, peace, and strength. No circumstance, person, issue, challenge, insult, or accusation can unravel what God has knit together in you. You are unstoppable. Fear, insecurity, anxiety, and guilt are no longer your master, nor can people use them to manipulate and discourage your life.  You are poised to meet every challenge with Grace. As He is, so are you in this world.

This is who you are, in Christ.  No person’s opinion of you should gain more influence over you than what Jesus has done TO you, the moment you believed. Let people say what they want ABOUT you, because they can never change what Jesus has done TO you. Believe that!

2) Believe that your goal in life (and relationships) is NOT to have people like you- People don’t have to like you, agree with you, value you, nor accept you in order for you to be in truth a caring, loving, and good person.  People’s opinion of you don’t and shouldn’t be allowed to define you, God’s opinions should. People have been known to believe one thing one moment, and another, another moment. People believe some of the most ridiculous and misguided things. Chasing after the positive opinions and reactions of people will leave you spinning like a breakdancer on crack. The goal of your relationships with people is to love them, not to derive your value and worth from their opinions or reactions to you. When it comes to God, it is better to receive than to give, but when it comes to people, it is better to give than receive. The goal of your life and relationships is not orchestrate and direct the applause and acceptance of people towards you. Nor is it to gain their approval so that you can approve of yourself.  The goal of your relationships is to love and bless, where possible.

3) Believe that God is your best supply for your sense of value, approval, and worth– God knows you better than anybody, and God is the one who determines your worth, approval rating, and value. Believing this is true of God over that of people is critical to say the least. God’s approval, and the value and worth He places on you should be your emotional and relational home base. The approval or disapproval of others should never become our emotional foundation. God is your best supply. He loves you with an everlasting love. He created, saved, and sanctifies you. No one can carry out the good work He has begun in you, nor does anyone hold His position to speak most clearly, accurately, consistently, and truthfully in and about your life.

4) Believe that not everybody’s opinions of you matter- If you believe every person’s opinions or reactions to you should be valued equally, you will for sure be a relational and emotional basket case. Some people’s opinions of us should have more value and influence than others.  Stop taking to heart the opinions of people who don’t matter. And the truth is, there are going to be a good number of people in your life whose opinions should matter very little, if at all.  No, it’s not about being rude or caring yourself in a rude way, it is about stewarding the life God has given you.

At the same time, you should surround yourself with people who love, value, and encourage you for who you are in Christ and His purposes in life. These are people who will never leave your side, and yet are willing to speak the truth in love to you, even if it hurts. You will likely only have a handful of these people in a lifetime, and with them, you should give more value and thought to their opinions.

Looking forward to your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Lies Church Taught Me

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Galatians 1:6-9

I love the church, and believe it is God’s manger for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to reach a broken world. Though not perfect, the Christian church is in many aspects truly beautiful.  Countless lives have been changed, transformed, and blessed by the Christian church.

Yet, the chances are strong that the modern Christian church of the last 50 years while having blessed you has also perhaps misled you. Did it intentionally lie and deceive you? Doubtful.  But, with good-hearted intentions, the church of today has often misunderstood the Gospel and given many a distorted view of the Christian life.  At least, that is my humble view.  The distinctions may be subtle, but their impact is profound on every person, including you.

As you read below, perhaps you will identify areas where you have been misled, or perhaps some of these will offend your beliefs.

In any case, I suspect these will give all of us much to consider…

1) God is angry with you.

For many of us, we have been given the impression that God may love us, but up to a point. There are limits to His love. With a wrong move His love can be diminished or withheld. He could become disappointed with you and turn His face as He keeps a close watch and record of your every move. We sing about God’s love, but secretly wonder if and when His anger will manifest. At some level or another, many people believe God is angry with them.

The truth is God loves you perfectly, completely, and unconditionally. It is not based on you or your performance, but on His nature, will, and affection for you. The simple fact that He created you, is reason enough for Him to shine His eternal love on you without restraint or reserve. God does not “kinda” love you, He completely loves you.

God is not angry with you, at all. Furthermore, the Christian life is not about communicating an angry God to people. It is not about gathering together around what we are against in the world and thumping people over the head with our religiosity.

People who feel condemned, condemn others. People who believe in an angry God, fearfully live their lives focused on what is wrong and what they are against in themselves, others, and the world.

2) Repentance means to change your ways.

Many have taught that to receive the forgiveness and favor of God, you need to stop doing bad and start doing good. They suggest that if you don’t “repent” (clean up your act) God won’t save you or give you His presence, blessing, or favor in your life.

The truth is the word “repentance” in the Bible (gk. metanoia) actually means “to change your mind.”

It has everything to do with your beliefs and nothing to do with your actions.

We receive the Gospel through faith (a changed mind) about Jesus and His love, not our performance. This is also true about our closeness with God as Christians. It is not our performance that releases God presence, favor, and blessings for our lives, but rather our faith. We are renewed in our minds, not through our behaviors.

3) You need to give your life to Jesus 

You have likely heard a call to people to “give their life to Jesus” as a means of receiving salvation, or rededication. Of course, this sounds good and is well intentioned. Yet, the truth is, before faith in Christ we don’t have a life to give Him. And after faith in Christ, the life we live is Christ living in, as, and through us.

We don’t give our live to Jesus, Jesus gives us His life. This is a huge distinction. It is not Jesus and me, it is Jesus as me.

Before faith in Christ, we are as good as dead. After faith in Christ, we are as good as Him.

We give nothing, Jesus gives us everything. Grace is attracted to our weaknesses, not our strengths.

4) The more you attend church, raise your hands in worship, memorize the Bible, pray long and hard, and serve, the more spiritual you are.

There is no mistaking the fact that we live in the age of the performance-driven Christian. We have equated actions, efforts, and accomplishments with spiritual maturity. To be sure, obedience and faithfulness are important, but they are not necessarily indicators of spiritual maturity. Furthermore, we have labeled certain behaviors as primary indicators of spiritual maturity over others. Church attendance, passionate expressions of worship and devotion, bible quoting, underlining and studies, praying, and serving in church have been highlighted as defining bench marks.

The truth is, what is seen on the outside is not always congruent to what is going on in the inside. Spiritual maturity is more about what you belief first, then how you act. And more importantly, from what foundation you act.

For many, the foundation behind their church attendance, serving, prayer, devotion, study, etc. is from a lack of spiritual maturity, not the presence of it. Out of a lack of faith and trust in the Gospel and the goodness of God, they are striving, trying, earning and performing their way into God’s favor, blessing, and forgiveness. They are trying to convince themselves of what they are not really convinced, that they can truly trust in Jesus’s performance above and beyond their own. What passes as spiritual maturity is often a result of the development of the religious spirit.

The truth is, spiritual maturity is first right believing, then right living. It’s first about the true Gospel of Grace believed, and then the Gospel of Grace lived. And here’s the kicker, you can’t have the second without the first, as much as many Christians strive and try. Spiritual maturity is a rest, not a test. It’s about trust, not trying and striving.

God is not impressed with our raised hands, attendance records, prayer sessions, studies, expressions of devotion, and feats of Christian service that come from any other foundation than resting, trusting, and believing in the Gospel of God’s grace, where God works through you and as you as you believe, trust, and rest in Him.

Peter boasted of His love for Jesus and ended up denying Him three times. Not good. John boasted of Jesus’ love for Him and ended up reclining with Him at the table. Now, which one was more spiritually mature? The one who boasted of His love for Jesus, or the one who rested and trusted Jesus’ love for him?

Spiritual maturity happens when His performance means much more to you (and Him) than your own.

5) God does His part, but you need to do your part.

The Gospel is this… God does His part, and your part is to realize you have no part, only to believe. Yet, what is often taught is… God does His part, but you need to do yours, whether it’s about your salvation or your sanctification. You just gotta love God more!

The truth is, you have no part other than to believe.

Not only can you not produce your salvation, you cannot produce spiritual fruit, you can only bear the fruit God produces in you. And that, only by faith.

Faith is what releases God to work in and through you, not effort. When we rest, God works. When we work, God rests. God does not need you, He wants you. He does not need your service to bless Him, He enables it to bless you and others. God is the author and perfector of your faith, not a partner.  As He is, so are we in this world. We co-labor with Christ as Christ in this world. It is not a condition for relationship, it is a manifestation of what He has done TO you and FOR you. What we owe Him, Christ paid.

We serve not from lack or debt, but from Grace and righteousness.

6) A believer is a sinner saved by Grace.

You have probably heard a Christian say to a non-believer, “the only difference between me and you is, I’m forgiven.” Though this is well intentioned I’m sure, it is completely false.  A believer is not merely a sinner saved by Grace.

The truth is, on the cross, Jesus didn’t just do something FOR you, He did something TO you that becomes actualized the moment you believe. A believer is no longer by nature a sinner. This is not the essence nor reality of their identity.

In the NT scriptures, Paul went through great lengths to convince and declare to us as Christians, through faith in the work of Jesus on the cross, our old sinful nature has been crucified, put to death once and for all. Now, we are the righteousness of Christ, partakers of the divine nature, no longer condemned, receiving every spiritual blessing not just as children of God, but sons, daughters, priests, and kings.

Believers are not sinners saved by Grace, but saints sustained by Grace.

If you believe by nature you are still a sinner, what will you do? Sin. If you believe by nature, you are the righteousness of Christ, what will you do? Live rightly.

Right believing leads to right living.

7) Obedience is the essence of the Christian life

It is true that in the Old Testament, under the Mosaic Law, obedience was the essence of a Godly life and the key to a relationship and fellowship with God. The performance of people is the essence of relationship with God under the Old Covenant.

But when Jesus said it was “finished” as He died on the cross and was resurrected, the Old Covenant was destroyed and the New Covenant of God’s Grace was established. We are no longer under the Law, but under Grace. If you don’t rightly divide the Word of God between these covenants, you miss God’s heart and the reality of Him and His presence here and now.

The obedience of performance that was once the essence of a relationship with God under the Law, was fulfilled and therefore rendered null and void through Jesus’ performance on the cross. There is no longer an obedience of performance, but only an obedience of faith. Jesus’ performance accomplished it all because ours could never measure up.

Obedience under the New Covenant has nothing to with our performance, but everything to do with our faith. This is the “obedience of faith” Paul spoke of in NT scripture.

Right believing leads to right living. Right thinking leads to right acting. Not the other way around.

The truth is, the essence of the Christian life is faith, not obedience. Believe rightly, and the rest will take care of itself.

Every sin in your life comes from wrong belief. Deal with the belief and the behavior will take care of itself.

Before the cross, God allowed us to attempt to perform our way to redemption and relationship with God to ultimately show that we can’t. At the cross, God gave His son to perform for our redemption and secure our relationship with God because only He can. Now, God calls us to faith in Him not performance from us, because the performance is finished, and only faith receives it and releases it in your life. There is no more performance, only God working through you as you believe and rest in Him.

8) Grace causes people to sin more

You hardly hear much of Grace in church today. If you do, it is often with a mixture of the Law (religious rules and conditions) mixed in. That’s why you hear spoken or unspoken messages like, “God loves you, but here’s what you need to do” or “God loves you, but here are some steps you need to take”

Why? Because like the Pharisees, we have become frightened, intimidated, and convicted by Grace. We fear if we teach, counsel, and preach the pure Grace of God through Christ as taught in scripture, people will spiral out of control and take a nose dive into an unrestrained life of sin.

The truth is the Bible teaches, it’s actually the Law (religious rules and conditions) that entices people to sin, not Grace. In fact, it specifically teaches that Grace is what teaches us to live rightly. It is God’s kindness that leads to repentance.

No one was ever made Holy through punishment. Yet, that is what we are often taught about God, sin, and Grace.

People who truly get a hold of Grace and the Grace message of the Gospel don’t sin more, they sin less. In fact, I would venture to go so far as to say that the modern church with its mixture of Law and Gospel has likely enticed and imprisoned more believers to a sinful life filled with shame and guilt than perhaps the world could ever do. Grace is the cure to sinfulness, not religious fear, intimidation, guilt, and shame.

A sin problem is an identity problem, only Grace through Jesus Christ shows us who we really are in Christ and heals our identities.

9) You need to ask God to forgive you.

Many people live their lives preoccupied with their sins. They are primarily sin conscious instead of being Jesus conscious.

No one should be surprised by that, that’s how church has taught them to be. They believe that they need to be on watch for sin in their life so as to make sure they confess it so God can forgive it.  The one sin they miss confessing, could be the very one that messes up everything between them and God. Or, it could be the one straw that broke the back of God’s patience.

The truth is, God has already forgiven every sin in your life, past, present, and future. Without you even asking. When Jesus said it was finished, he meant it. God’s Grace is sufficient for you. Forgiveness is something God already accomplished on your behalf as He who knew no sin, became sin, that we might become the righteousness of Christ. Faith is what receives forgiveness, not confession.

Stop asking God to do something He already has accomplished. Rather, trust in His work on the cross and focus on Him, not your sin. As you do, the enticement of sin will depart, and your sense of identity in Christ will flourish and release you.

10) The job of the Holy Spirit is to convict you.

We have been taught in church to primarily see the Holy Spirit as a kind of policeman in your life. He’s there to make sure you stay on the straight and narrow, giving you a prod of conviction when you aren’t.  Yes, we have been taught the Holy Spirit will comfort you in times of trouble, but also give you a good jab in the ribs when you cause trouble. Just hope that you don’t need His comfort when you are causing trouble, you may just get a hit instead of a hug.

To be sure, the job of the Holy Spirit in the non-believer’s life is to convict them of their unbelief in Jesus, but that is not the job of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. His role as “convictor” doesn’t carry over into the Christian’s life. To do so would merely be to convict Himself, as Paul in the NT said “it is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.”

Rather, the job of the Holy Spirit in the believers life is not to condemn, convict or any of the alike, but rather to convince them of their righteousness in Christ.

The deepest issue in the Christian’s life is not if they are convicted of any sin in their life, but if they are convinced of their righteousness in Christ. A Christian convinced of their righteousness in Christ is a Christian who is an overcomer of sin in their life. Right believing leads to right living.

What would you add or subtract from this list?

Vampire Slayer: Dealing with Relationships that Suck the Life out of You

Relationships are the marrow of life. Until a person values people and relationships over nearly everything else, they will be devoid of true fulfillment and significance.

However, some people live for success and gain, and value people only as far as that goal is preserved and realized.  When you are fulfilling their ultimate plan of self promotion and gain, they are “with” you and invested to the level of benefit they receive. They feed on people, primarily insecure, kind-natured, and vulnerable ones, using people and relationships to further their lives and goals.

These are the vampires of life. And trying to have meaningful relationships with them of mutual respect and blessing sucks. Like a vampire, they entice you in with the appearance of a blessing, but leave you with a bite. Some, having sucked the life out of you. To use a biblical description, they are the “Jezebel” spirits of society; controlling, manipulative, condescending, deceptive, rude, and selfish.  And unfortunately, we often don’t identify them as such until we have been bitten by their fangs, having been left with the loss of blood and the wounds to show for it.

To be sure, we all let people down and miss the mark in our relationships from time to time. We all make relational mistakes. But vampires are different. They use people and knowing or unknowingly see them as a means to an end. Underneath the cloak of their kindness, benevolence, interest, and encouragement, their smile conceals the agenda of their ways… fangs for your blood. Taking from you to benefit them. What are presented as dreams for your life are schemes to benefit theirs, stepping over and on people to protect or prosper their living, goals, jobs, careers, comfort, status, egos, etc. With great eloquence and poise, they drape their cape, pretending to come along side you to bless and promote, but in the end their kiss is the prelude to a bite. There was a reason for their kindness or interest, but it wasn’t to pour into you, it was to suck out of you.  In the end, they will manifest their defining trait… they can walk away, fly off, turn their backs, betray, move on, refuse to change, leave you for dead, let you down, pull out the carpet, leave you hanging, with little to no remorse or pause. After they get what they want, of course. Maybe it was your help, your attention, your effort, your care, your money, your compliance, your apology, your loyalty, your benevolence, but now they got it, and you and your relationship with them are a disposable, secondary commodity. You are the host, they are the blood sucker, some willing to reduce you to a mere carcass.

We all have and will have vampires in our lives, and likely we have even been one to a certain degree.  In our selfish, “me” driven culture, it would be hard not to have been.

Yet, to utilize the verbage from a popular show, we can graciously “slay” the vampires in our lives and keep them from sucking the life out of us.

Here are some tips on how to do that…

1) Guard your heart–  Sometimes, we allow people in much too early and much to deeply without using common sense and discernment. Not everything that glitters is gold.  God wants us to be wise and careful with people and our relationships.  We can look for the best in people without turning a blind eye or being naive to the worst. Time is one of our greatest tools for developing close relationship that are safe and significant.  Taking relationships of any kind one step at a time is deeply wise counsel, no matter how innocent and safe it may seem up front.  Vampires have to show their fangs before they can bite, but you won’t see them if you have allowed them to be too close too soon. Taking it slow with any kind of relationship will ensure that you see the fangs before you have to feel them.

2) Don’t let people become your mirror-  Sometimes we take our emotional cues from how we perceive that people feel about us or things we care about. We look to them for how we should view and feel about ourselves. This is a formula for disaster, and the very kind of dynamic vampires prey upon.  Look to people as a screen not a mirror. We shine our image onto a screen, we get our image from a mirror.

3) Keep your identity in Christ- When you look to and for who you are and how you should feel about yourself, look to Christ and His Grace upon your life. Feed on Him, drink from His supply. His worth is your worth, His value is your value, His status is your status, His power is your power. Take your emotional and spiritual cues from Him. Attach your tubes of security and identity to His supply, not people. Vampires can’t suck the life out of you if your life (identity) is fed by Christ. The moment they taste your security in Christ, they will release their bite in frustration.

4) Stay clear of controlling, manipulative people- No matter how lonely, needing of attention, or desiring of relationship you are, controlling people kill. Not physically per se, but emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.  Stop making excuses for their behaviors and blaming yourself for their manipulative, controlling ways. Their micromanagement, temper tantrums, seductions, enticements, pouting fests, guilt trips, intimidating threats, and condescending jabs will never lead to a healthy relationship of mutual respect and blessing.  Trying to get them to be genuinely interested in your life is futile. Becoming a doormat for Jesus only leaves you being walked on by domineering people, leaving you with little to nothing left to offer the people who really need you in your life.

5) Love from a distance- The best way to send a vampire into a tailspin is to give them your kindness without allowing them your kidney, bless them without allowing them your blood, love them from a distance. When they can’t control you, your emotions, your sense of worth and value, and your decisions, their grip, power, and drain of your life will dissolve. They may pitch a fit and show their teeth, but when they don’t get what they really want their influence and hold on your emotional life will vanish.   

6) Pour into people who truly love you- These people may be few and far between, but trying to make unhealthy people and relationship healthy will suck the life out of you. Jesus may be able to rescue them, but you can’t. If people can walk away, let them walk away. If they’re biters rather than blessers, release them and don’t look back. Stop trying to get people to be interested in your life who are really just interested in theirs. Stop trying to get the approval of people who don’t matter. Better to pour into a few who truly love you and have your best interest in heart, than to starve those who love you because you are too busy trying to resurrect the relationships that don’t.  Don’t let people rent headspace in your life that don’t have a heart for your best interests.  If people won’t respect and receive you, shake the dust off your feet. Let your Grace and graciousness be attracted to the people who are humble and desiring enough to receive it, not to those who would abuse it.

 

 

 

 

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