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The world is full of messages about self.

You deserve it
You’re worth it
Take care of yourself
Pamper yourself
Love yourself

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:29

I have heard it taught concerning this passage that Jesus assumes we know we already love ourselves a lot – we are self-focused and self-centered and that we should apply the same energy and time we spend on ourselves on loving other people.

Questions

(Apart from the obviously idolatrous worship of self the world revolves around) Does this mean loving myself, as Christ loves me, is wrong? And if it is wrong, how am I supposed to view myself? Most of the teachers I read say something like this:

We are depraved creatures who, apart from the grace of God are nothing. In light of His glory we are worthless. (Or at least that is how is sounds to me.) I have embraced these teachings because it seems good to make much of God and not to make much of me. A Christ-centered gospel is good. A man-centered gospel is bad. I believe this!

But, I am wrestling with the every day battle that wars inside my soul. When I sin (regardless if I repent or not) I feel defeated. I feel that with each new sin I chip away at God’s grace for me and that He sees me as predictable and a failure. This makes me run away from Him for obvious reasons.

Then I think of the prodigal son. The father ran to him when he was a long way off, gave him the robe, the ring and the fattened calf. But what happened when he messed up again, 2 months after the big feast? What then? Was the father exasperated with the wayward, sin-prone son? Did He give up on him?

What about the woman at the well? Did she go back to her lover? Did she leave him only to shack up with another man years later? Did Jesus still love her or was he just disappointed in her failures?

So when Christ forgives me, cleanses me, and his Spirit indwells me, am I still bad and worthless?

How am I supposed to view myself? I am loved by the Creator God, redeemed by His son’s blood, indwelt and empowered by His Holy Spirit…but yet worthless, dirty and depraved? I can’t reconcile this.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” Psalm 139:13-14

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

Accepted

The best example I see in scripture is Peter. He failed, repented and was redeemed. He was changed. He now KNEW that God loved him more deeply than he had imagined – historians document the rest of his life as a life of dedication to the gospel and renunciation of self – I think because of his complete abandon to a life bathed in the unconditional love of Christ.

It seems to me easier to forge ahead in my life secure in the fact that I will be completely loved regardless of how many times I fall down!

Cleaned Up

There is so much pressure in today’s evangelical world to look “cleaned up.” My life might be a wreck on the inside but on the outside everyone sees a shiny, happy Amy. If I don’t show this false self to the world, who needs Christ, then I run the risk of “hurting my witness.” The potential guilt of leading someone away from Jesus and on to hell is too much for me – so sometimes I fake it. Yes, I said it ūüôā

When a hurting, lost and dying world perceives that I have no problems and am “all cleaned up” is that attractive? Do they want Christ more when I present a false self? I am convinced they do not.

In my experience, the people I encounter feel the need to pretend to be like the false self I am portraying! They guard their speech and never really let me see their inner lives and struggles – that is until they see that I struggle too.

I have come to the conclusion that if Satan is the father of lies, then being someone I am not, even if it looks good, must be evil.

“I am the way, the truth and the life…” John 14:6

I am convinced that I cannot hate my fallen, sinful, depraved self and have a vibrant relationship with God. Self-hatred is self-centeredness that draws me away from God and toward the things of this world. I don’t know what this looks like but I am going to begin by going to my Father and believing that His love for me is bigger than my sin and my mistakes. I am going to believe that

He is not shocked by my failures and He is not deterred in His pursuit of me.

…”being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Phil 1:6

I want to live like I am utterly loved and accepted and nothing can rob me of that – even my own sin.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

beggar

¬†I Haven’t Blogged in a While

¬†…’cause I really didn’t have ¬†anything¬†extraordinary¬†to share. Life is really good and I am grateful. I am about ¬†to be a first-time aunt and my sis and her ¬†husband are finally back in the ‘ham.¬†I ¬†would love to have amazing things to¬†constantly blog about but I don’t. It seems false for me to force it so I haven’t.

 But Today is a New Day

¬†…and I have something to share ūüôā I have recently been introduced to the writings of ¬†Brennan Manning and he is challenging me ¬†in ways I cannot yet articulate. (but there¬†will be forthcoming posts soon!) Below is something fantastic and raw and I had to share it with you!

Excerpt from Ruthless Trust

“Sensing¬†that if I bare my soul I will be abandonded by my friends and ridiculed by my enemies, I remain in hiding, borrowing from the cosmetic kit to put on my pretty face. I veil my unstated distrust behind a cheerful countenence, mask my fears behind sanguine pretense, and

present a false self that is mostly admirable, mildly prepossessing and superficially happy.

Later, I hate myself for my flagrant dishonesty. Who can I turn to?

In what may be the most stunning sentence in the entire Bible, Jesus says, “I call you my friend.

Raw honesty with Jesus about our doubts and anxieties, our lust and laziness, our shabby prayer life and stale religiosity, our mixed motives and divided hearts is the risk we take in the certainity or being acceptible and being accepted.

It is the full and mature expression of invincible trust.

Jesus is the friend who will never fail, the faithful one who will never be lacking in fidelity, even when people are unfaithful to Him, the stranger to self-hatred who estranges us from self-hatred.”¬†

Brennan Manning ¬†“Ruthless Trust”
pp. 102-103

My Thoughts

I find myself hiding from God because of my own self-disillusionment. I think, “I’ve been a believer for 7 years! I should be “better” than I was when He first saved me, right?”

So I see myself as a failure, the condemnation sinks in and I hide. It is no better when the church I love so much reinforces my beliefs about what my failures mean:

I am weak
I am lazy 
I am an immature Christian
I should have “this” under¬†control¬†by now
I am not plugged in at church
I am not in a Sunday School class
My quiet times aren’t regular enough
I am not filled with enough of God’s spirit
I have not memorized enough scripture
I am not enough
I am not enough 

And when those who have put me on a¬†pedestal see glimpses of my¬†imperfections¬†they in turn become¬†disillusioned. They get angry. Their own fears rise up that if their preachers, teachers, leaders, elders,¬†deacons, small group leaders and other¬†pedestal-dwellers aren’t doing any better than they are then there is no hope for them either. I represent what they fear the most.

So we all end up hiding. We all end up far from communion with God because we believe He is keeping an account of all of our failures. This is the LIE that keeps us from Him, isn’t it? But there is hope in the TRUTH of the the gospel that calls all imperfect, haggard sinners to come and¬†drink daily¬†from the river of life. The Life-Giver who does not hate us as we hate ourselves says, “Come, all you who are weary…”¬†

The Lies I Learned in Church

I believed that I could come to Jesus initially as a ragamuffin but, later had to come as a Pharasee. After a undertmined amount of time had passed I was no longer allowed to come to Him as the messed up girl he rescued. I had to put on the appropriate clothes, speak appropriate “Christineese”, attend all of the appropriate church events (on time), serve in all of the appropraite ministries that complement my gifts and talents, please all of the¬†appropriate¬†people, meet all of their expectations and

just
sin
less.

The Poverty of My Soul

This, I am finding is a bunch of crap.

I ‘ve been miserable and I am tired of it! I want the freedom to live as a beggar EVERYDAY! I can play the role I was given when I entered the church, be clean on the outside and still be full of dead men’s bones-or I can come as a little child to the lap of Jesus -no matter how much mud covers me.

I am beginning a journey of learning what actually pleases God and not what pleases man. I apologize in advance-I am going to make some of you mad in the process. But I love you ūüôā

My hope is that the outcome of authentic Christianity will be a richer prayer life and communion with God and that the overflow of this will be pleasing to him, joyful for me and attractive to a lost world.

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”¬†“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.¬†Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.¬†The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.¬†There is no commandment greater than these.”

Jesus
Mark 12:28-29 

 

There are so many things today that make my heart heavy The stories out of India of the believers in Orissa having their homes and churches burned by Hindu radicals. The advent of Ramadan and the lostness of 1.3 billion Muslims. My friends suffering overseas in closed, Musilm countries and right here at home a friend’s family being attacked by the enemy.

What makes my heart the heaviest is my lack of prayer for all of them. It is so easy to pretend that the details of my comfortable life are somehow more important than their need of my prayers. God have mercy on my prayerlessness and faithlessness. Awaken my soul to the leadings of Your Spirit and help me to throw off all of the things of this world that hinder. 

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