Tag: failure

Thankful For Nothing

In a world of everything, I am thankful for nothing.

I know, it feels like everything—that thing that you did…

You made a mistake, you screwed up—words you said, choices you made, plans you created. The moment got the best of you, it wasn’t supposed to happen that way—everything spiraling out of control. The crack on the ceiling became the whole house falling. It was bad—really, really bad.

So now, you run, but you can’t run fast enough—the medication, can’t medicate deep enough. Your success, can’t be successful enough. What you want to let go, won’t seem to let go—the guilt, the shame, the cost, the regret. At times, it’s all so overwhelming. What you did, it feels like—everything.

In your mind it’s haunting you, certainly this is all reason for His doubt, reason for His questioning—reason for your one-eye-open living. Will you get the ax? Will God storm out of the heavens like a drunk out of a bar—put you in your place under an angry thumb? Is this the time you pushed Him too far?

I know, it feels like everything—that thing that happened to you…

They stole your innocence, betrayed your trust—said terrible things, did terrible things. It wasn’t fair, wasn’t right—completely wrong in every way—stealing things that can’t be replaced. The hurts run deep, straight to the arteries of your soul—you’ll never be the same. Tragedy has many faces—some innocent, some not. You weren’t suppose to be alone, but now you are—the chair where they sat—now empty. No greater pain you have ever felt than being without, being alone—once loving in the physical, to now love in memory only.

So, you run, but you can’t run fast enough—the medication, can’t medicate deep enough. Your success, can’t be successful enough. What you want to let go, won’t seem to let go—the bitterness, the anger, the revenge—the hurt, the loss, the emptiness. What happened to you, it feels like—everything.

That’s why, in your mind, the questions pound you—is He real, was He asleep at the wheel? How could this ever happen under a God who’s supposed to be so loving? Beating His chest, crying every tear, feeling hung out to dry—perhaps these doubts should have been doubted long before. What you thought was a trust now seems so un-trustable.

I know, it feels like everything—what you are doing, who you are becoming, the life you are living…

The real you, the fake you, something in between—your secret thoughts, insecurities, desires, dreams. Passions in your heart—if only to love and be loved in return—declared of value, overflowing with worth. Fully accepted—never to die with your song still inside. You’ve got one life—air to breathe, breaths to take. Am I good enough? Am I like-able, love-able? Do I qualify “as is,” or something different? Status, labels, “likes” on Facebook—I don’t want to waste anytime. Fit in here, fit in there—maybe have no fit at all. Am I getting this right? Doing this well?

And so you run, but you can’t run fast enough—the medication, can’t medicate deep enough. Your success, can’t be successful enough. What you want to let go, won’t seem to let go—the insecurities, the uncertainties, the voices in your head—the naysayers, fair-weather players—the push to be seen, heard, affirmed, believed.

What you are doing, who you are becoming, the life you are living—it feels like—everything.

That’s why, in this world of everything, I am so thankful for nothing.

For nothing can subtract from God’s love for you. Nothing can change His mind, reduce His delight—kink the garden hose of His favor drenching you.

No mistake, no miscue, no atrocity—nothing of you can edit anything of Him.

All decided, once and for all—God’s perfect, unconditional, unrestricted love. Always has, always is, always will be, for there is nothing more pure and more sure than God’s heart—His love, His affections for you—nothing.

There’s nothing for Him to reexamine, to revaluate, to retract—nothing from Him withheld, reserved, restrained.

Nothing.

Nothing else is God but love—perfect, eternal, unconditional, unlimited love. All, poured out for you, for me, for everyone.

In a world of everything, I am thankful for nothing.

For nothing can improve upon the you that God has already finished—there’s nothing of blemish, nothing of sin, nothing of darkness in you within. Nothing to work on, nothing to strive for, nothing to earn—you are whole, complete, righteous, forgiven, forever pure. It’s nothing of what you do, only everything of what He did—there’s nothing left to do, only everything to believe, in Him

It’s not about what people think—not what people say. Not the height of your attitude, not the depth of your gratitude—nothing half empty, nothing half full. Nothing of your religious effort, believing, or work—nothing at all.

Nothing to fear, nothing of which to be ashamed, nothing of tarnish upon your name.

You are righteousness, when you get it all wrong—you are success, when failures go on and on—you are whole, even as it all unravels to the ground.

As He is, so are you—nothing less than the beauty of Jesus—nothing.

In a world of everything, I am thankful for nothing.

For nothing is the sum distance between you and God—He is beside you, within you, all around you, as you. Nothing closer, nothing thicker, nothing more real than the realness of His hand holding yours—you have never been alone.

He is your strength when yours is nothing—He is your guide, when your sight sees nothing. He is your hope, when hope seems like nothing.

Grace is awakening to the hug God has always had around you—a Grace that nothing can remove.

So, in a world of everything, I am so thankful for nothing.

Absolutely… nothing.

For in the nothing, I find everything for which to be thankful…

Nothing.

The Secret Behind Your Inner Struggles

For many years, I lived a life where I was ruled by insecurity, worry, guilt, and failure. I was pouring a lot of effort into trying to be a better person, but with no real success.  Many inner (and outer) aspects of my life were a struggle at some level or another.  My thought life and self-talk were overly negative, my faith was riddled with doubts, and my character was lacking and cracking.

I am sure there were contributing factors, including a difficult childhood. Yet, the bottom line was, like many people, I became ruled by my inner struggles to the point they were allowed the power to define much of my life. Even worse, I didn’t realize the effect this was having… spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  I suspect a lot of people currently walk around like I did, where the outside might look all put together, but the inside… not so much.

When I was a boy, part of my chores during the summertime was to pick the prickle weeds from our 2 acre lawn. This task would take hours each weekend as the prickle weeds quickly grew back during the week.  One Saturday morning, my dad gently pulled me aside and instructed me to adjust my strategy and pick the prickle weeds out by their root, instead of justing cutting off what appeared on the surface. He suggested in a whisper, “This will keep you from having to do this every weekend because they won’t grow back”  He was right, taking a little more time to pick them from the root saved me a lot of time later.

We all have weeds in the lawn of our inner lives… pain, guilt, insecurity, failures, inadequacies, worry, fear, secrets, doubts etc.  Each and every day we spend hours of mental and emotionally energy trying to keep these weeds from showing up as we attempt to trim the surface of our lives. Yet, the same struggles keep growing back, hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Why? Because we never get to the root.

And yet, our heavenly father gently pulls us aside and says, “If you like, I can show you the root of your inner struggles and how they can be healed.”

Condemnation is the Root of your Struggles  

The deepest and most subtle card Satan can play to steal, kill, and destroy from your life is condemnation. Condemnation seeks to have you conclude that you are guilty as something or for something and that your circumstances or actions are doomed to or already determine a negative conclusion. Something is wrong with you and/or your actions that define you and/or your future as lacking in some way. Condemnation produces stress an causes us to feel like if there is any chance to move forward, we will need to perform our way out.  Yet, most of the time, condemnation cuts right to the chase and sends the message, “there is no way out, no matter what you do.”

Condemnation comes in almost limitless forms, and Satan loves to plant it in our spirits in often very subtle ways.

In fact, I am convinced that the reason why many men don’t attend church is because of Satan’s success at sowing in them a spirit of condemnation.  At home, their wives unknowingly take cues out of Satan’s play book as they send a subtle or not so subtle message that their husbands are behind spiritually and will never catch up to their expectations.  The message is quite clear no matter how it is packaged, they aren’t doing what they should be doing for their spouse, children, and family. Condemnation, condemnation, and more condemnation. Additionally, once they do come to church, they are given message after message of how their behavior doesn’t make the grade and they are failing as fathers, husbands, and men. And very likely, if they ever do finally come to church, the pastor greets them with a “Hey dude, where have you been? It’s been like years since you have been at church.”   For most men, they are insecure enough already, and Satan just loves to add on more and more messages of condemnation to cage them in.

Satan loves to take what is intended as constructive correction and shape it into condemnation through an inner thought life of insecurity and shame. And the messages of condemnation are everywhere in our culture for men and women alike to absorb.  It’s the look in their eye as they size you up, the model on the cover of a magazine that you can never live up to, it’s your employer who never seems satisfied with your work, it’s the correction that leads to you to concluding that you should be ashamed and filled with guilt, it’s the joy or rewarding of another that leaves you comparing and concluding yourself as less of a person.

Condemnation is the root, and  things like insecurity, stress, disease, pride, fear, anxiety, depression, religion, legalism, anger, impulsive decisions, perfectionism, performance, a critical spirit, rules, shame, and guilt are the fruit. All of the areas of your life where you find inner struggle can be traced back to a spirit or feeling of condemnation Satan has sowed in that or some connected area of your life.

The ultimate healing in your life is when God’s Grace is applied through faith to the deepest and widest areas of condemnation in your life. Grace is the ultimate game changer!

Condemnation blocks God’s Favor

God has extravagant, endless favor for your life. His mercy and transforming power are miraculous. That’s why one of the greatest costs of condemnation is that when you believe it about yourself, segments of yourself, or your circumstances, it blocks God’s favor. Why? Because the result of condemnation is disbelief, and God’s favor will not move in your life without your faith. A person who feels condemned is not going to truly believe in the love and Grace of God for their life.  They might go to church, sing the songs, say the prayers, and go through the motions, but they don’t truly believe in the loveliness of Jesus and His complete and thorough Grace for their life. Instead, they hold onto some portion of their performance (or bad performance) in life, works, and obedience (or disobedience) for their sense of security and identity. This blocks the release of God’s favor because they are putting their faith in themselves rather in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. As you believe it, you receive it, as you receive it, you live it.

The true, comprehensive graciousness of God releases us to truly put our entire faith in Jesus, and faith releases God to move in our lives. It doesn’t take a lot of faith, but it does take faith. Condemnation is the great faith-killer, that’s why it’s Satan most priced weapon to steal, kill, and destroy in your life.

Yet, God says, “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1. The job of the Holy Spirit in the non-believer’s life is to convict (not condemn) that person of their disbelief (or wrong belief) in Jesus. The job of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life is to convince that person of their righteousness in Christ.  God’s wants people to first get the identity of His Son Jesus right through faith, and then get their own identity right as forgiven, righteous children and sons of God, also through faith.

Condemnation Poisons your Identity

In the same way, condemnation poisons your identity. Satan knows if he can get you to believe the wrong things about yourself, he can easily get you to do the wrong things in life. An obedience problem is always first an identity problem. The Bible says, “as a man thinks, so he is.”  God wants you believe that in Christ you have everything and are everything, Satan wants you to believe you are nothing and lack everything.

Condemnation is the root of all insecurity and identity distortion.

What you believe about yourself can only be cured by what you believe about God and His work in and on behalf of your life. When you see and believe in the loveliness of Jesus and His Grace for your life you will see and believe in the loveliness of you. The quality of Jesus becomes the quality of you.

In fact, the bible states that, “if you are in Christ, you are a new creation.”  You’re sins, past, present and future, have all been forgiven. You are the righteousness of Christ, with nothing “wrong” with you.  You lack nothing and have every spiritual blessing. You are a partaker of the divine nature. Greater is He that lives in you than is in the world. You are no longer defined by your performance, but by the beauty of Jesus and His finishing work on the cross.  You stand with no condemnation in your life. Guilt and same need no longer to rule your heart and actions. You are totally complete in Christ.

Satan wants to reduce or completely take away your sense of who you truly are. His greatest weapon to do so is condemnation.

 

The Art of Being Content

We all want to be happy and satisfied in our lives.  We want to have the sense that our lives are complete, whole, and everything they are purposed to be.  The thought that possibly we are missing out on something can be haunting.  When our secret thoughts continually center around a theme of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment no matter how life has blessed us, unrest and emptiness abound.

Jesus taught a lot about how to have the best life possible. He desires for us to learn the art of being content. Here are some key points in His teaching…

o.o1 Be satisfied in God first and foremost

Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

God not only has everything we need to be content, God is everything we need to be content.  When, through faith and a personal relationship with Jesus, we respect and have a deep sense of awe of God, we grow to learn that we can be content in Him alone.  As we look towards material possessions and accomplishments to make us content, God often asks us the question, “Am I enough for you?”

When we grow to become satisfied in God alone and not things and accomplishments, we find a place a peace, wholeness, and fulfillment nothing can steal.  So much of the things life gives us can be taken away, that’s why when we tie our contentment to them we will never be satisfied, but rather often disappointed.  Jesus taught that earthly pleasures will never be enough for us.  The moment we have one thing, reach one level, accomplish one thing, we will be dissatisfied and want something else. However, when we grow to a place where God Himself is enough for us, our well of satisfaction will never run dry.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

o.o2  Become a generous giver

The world says that if you want to be content then you need to, “Take take take, and keep, keep, keep.”  Jesus teaches that if you want to be content, “Give, give, give, and serve, serve, serve.”  Jesus turns the whole idea of being happy and satisfied in life upside down.  In fact, in the Kingdom of God, you only get to keep what you are willing to give away.

When our possessions possess us, you can be sure contentment soon leaves the building.  It seems like money and material possessions should be able to fill the satisfaction cup in our lives. And, for a short period of time, they can. But soon enough, we want and need more.  Enough is never enough. As the saying goes, “happiness isn’t getting what you want, it’s wanting what you already have.”

However when we become givers, we soon realize that contentment comes not in what we have, but in what we give. As Jesus taught, it is in giving that we actually receive in a way that satisfies the soul.  Find me a person who has a serious void of contentment in their life and you will have found a person who is probably doing a lot more “taking and keeping” and a lot less, “giving and serving.”

Furthermore, when we become givers we also become thankers. A thankful heart is the pathway to contentment. When we are thankful people, no matter our circumstances, we can find the cup of our lives to be half full rather than have empty.  Looking at our lives through the lens of thankfulness is the quickest cure to the cancer of dissatisfaction and lack of contentment.

o.o3 Keep the past in the past

Shame, guilt, and regret are Satan’s darts used to pop the balloon of our life from being filled with contentment. Life isn’t always about doing the right thing, sometimes it’s about taking what as been done and making it right.  Letting the past dictate the future will eclipse the presence of contentment in our lives. The more we are unsatisfied with the past, the more we will be unsatisfied with the present and future. Somewhere along the way, we have to cut the cord emotionally, and let the past be the past.

When you do this, you are able to enjoy the present for what it is. You are not sizing it up to anything in the past.  You are free to move on and enjoy taking hold of a brighter future.  Discontent with the past only leads to discontent with the present and the future. You can’t do anything about the past, but you can do something about today.

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” 

Notice that God doesn’t say, “Yesterday is the day…”

o.o4  Discover and live God’s Purpose for you life

Spending time and energy on things that don’t matter rob of us of true satisfaction and fulfillment. The worst thing in life isn’t failing, it’s becoming successful at things that don’t really matter.

There is a huge difference between significance and success. You can become successful without ever being significant.  Significance is focused on impacting the things that God cares about.  It’s about pouring our lives into causes that are close to the heart of God.  Living your life to be wealthy, comfortable, and secure is not a cause that is close to the heart of God.  God is not interested in you promoting yourself, but in you promoting Him.  People who spend their lives on self-serving pursuits are never truly content. It’s only when we align our lives with God’s purpose for it that we become fulfilled and content.

There are many ways to discover God’s unique purpose for your life. However, in short, I believe God’s purpose for your life can be found where your greatest gifts from God meet God’s greatest needs in the world.  Right within the pain of your life you can find God’s purpose for your life.  God wants to take our misery and turn it into a ministry.  When we combine our circumstances, gifts, personalities, resources, and struggles and connect them with God’s greatest needs in the world, we will be well on our way to discovering God’s unique purpose for our lives.

Don’t waste your life becoming successful, spend your life becoming significant.

As you do that, make sure you become yourself and not somebody else.  When we try to become other people and live other people’s lives we will never find true contentment. If you can’t become content in who God created you to be, how can you become content with anything else? God didn’t create you to spend your life trying to be somebody else. Think of it this way, if God created you to be you, and you are not willing to be you, then why did God create you in the first place?

Playing the comparison game as you evaluate your life based on what everybody else has, does, and is, will keep you from ever being satisfied and fulfilled in life.

0.05 Focus on holiness not happiness

So many people live their lives pursuing anything and everything that makes them “happy.”  God doesn’t mind you being happy, but He does mind when what makes us happy gets in the way of what makes us Holy. Happiness doesn’t always lead to holiness.

Furthermore, happiness is highly overrated. Happiness can be taken away from you and is often based on what is or isn’t happening in our lives. If people like us, we are happy. If they don’t, we aren’t happy. If our job is going well and the finances are solid, then we are happy. If we hit a bad season at work and the money is tight, we aren’t happy. So much of happiness is codependent on life.

Holiness, on the other hand, leads to something better than happiness… joy.  Happiness can be taken away from you, true joy cannot.  Holiness brings us a satisfaction and contentment that the world cannot touch. It enables us to have a sense of joy no matter our circumstances.

Holiness isn’t about living a perfect life, it’s about progressing spiritually and striving to do the right thing even when it feels wrong.  Holiness is about asking the Holy Spirit,”What needs working on in my life?” and then allowing the Holy Spirit do what only He can do, and that is to change you. Holiness is about seeing ourselves as God sees us.  God loves all people and sees people who believe in Him as “the righteousness of Christ.”  For the believer there is no condemnation… none!

When I look in the mirror I can be content with what I see, not because I am perfect (far from it), but because of how God sees me and who I am becoming in the process.

It’s not about being happy, it’s about being Holy.

© 2019 Chris Kratzer

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