Saturday, April 20, 2013

Living in unity

God dealt with my critical spirit and bitterness. He has shown me that there are areas in my life that I need to change, and there are areas in my life HE needs to change. There are three things that I can do to promote unity and to reduce the risk of causing discord within my church family:

Do NOT hinder the Church“These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” {Proverbs 6:16-19}

God hates it when we create division and trouble in the body of Christ. If we are having a problem with someone or something within the church, we need to deal with it in a Godly way. It rarely involves telling anyone who will listen about it. Speak to only the people involved {Matthew 18:15-17}

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
Be in the same mind
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians. 1:10).

We are to “speak the same thing” so that there will be unity in the body of Christ. That means we need to be in the same mind and focus on what we have in common - which is Christ and His Word. It's very easy to focus on our differences and allow them to divide us, but it's not what God wants.

Submit to those in charge

“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” {Hebrews. 13:17}

We are to cooperate and submit to our spiritual leaders. We are to show respect and honor to those that God has anointed and placed in charge of our branch of the body of Christ. We need to see them as God sees them and that is that they are recognized as the authority in that particular church. This doesn't come without accountability to that responsibility! We have no right to dishonor and be rebellious towards those that God has placed in leadership.

Dear Father,
Remind me to speak with a pure tongue, that uplifts and builds up your Church. Thank you for placing the people that you have in leadership and help me remember they are your annointed and appointed. When I rebel or resist their leadership, I resist you.  Help me to remember that it's so much better to live together in unity. Help me keep my actions pure and my attitude sweet. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bitterness and the Critical Spirit

crit·i·cism  Noun

The expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes

“Why do you criticize and pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you look down upon or despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. And so each of us shall give an account of himself - give an answer in reference to judgment - to God. Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother.” {Romans 14:10 - Amplified Bible}

I am guilty of possessing the critical spirit. I have repented and have asked God to deal with it. This has been incredibly tough for me to admit. It was even harder to admit to God that I had a serious problem and I needed dealing with. God wasn't exactly subtle in his delivery of the fact that I had a critical spirit. He told me straight out and I was in serious danger of doing some irreparable damage.

So what is a "critical spirit"? Based on a study from :

A “critical spirit,” is an obsessive attitude of criticism and fault-finding, which seeks to tear others down — not the same thing as what is sometimes called “constructive criticism.” The only criticism that is ever constructive is that which is expressed in love to “build up,” not to tear down — it is always expressed face-to-face, never behind their back. 
My critical spirit came out in the following form:
1. Gossip
2. Speaking disrespectfully about my church leaders
3. Negative views on the denomination as a whole
4. Criticizing the church in all areas.
5. Negative thinker
6. Picky, looking for faults.
7. Complaining

The Bible tells us not to tear down our Christian family through criticism or judgment, as this can be a serious stumbling-block and cause irreparable damage to their faith. I could have made someone stumble and fall because of my careless and destructive words! I cannot tell you how sobering that knowledge has been for me, especially remembering the scripture. "But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.{Matthew 18:6}*GULP*

 photo 6a00d8341d299553ef011278dbfeac28a4-320wi_zpsb4e16d4e.jpg

Although it doesn't say in so many words, I think that this next passage deals with the attitudes and actions of someone with a critical spirit. 
"..Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." We are to allow the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts and attitudes. I can tell you now that the Holy Spirit is in no way connected with a critical spirit. Those with a critical spirit may feel justified and righteous in their criticism and negativity, but it is not Godly. 

"So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body." Have you ever heard the saying, there are three sides to the truth? There are - your side, their side and the truth. Perception plays a huge part in how we see the world. If we are critical and negative about something, that will warp our sense of reality and how we see situations. We could inadvertently tell lies because our sense of what really happened and what was really said was warped by our perception. Instead of discussing our issues with one another to all and sundry, we should just keep quiet and deal with the matter privately and in the Biblical way. If we can't be sure it's the 100% truth, we need to stay silent. 

"And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil." By not dealing with anger and resentment quickly, we give the devil a chance to get in our ears and start filling our heads with nonsense. It can quickly escalate into a bigger problem and destroy relationships.
"......Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."  Someone with a critical spirit can be spotted as soon as they open their mouths. Our words are to be encouraging and building up the church, not tearing it down.  

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. {Ephesians 4:23 - 32}

There is no place in our hearts for a critical spirit. It muffles the voice of the Holy Spirit. It creates disturbance and hostility within us when there should be peace. 

Lord, Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Renew my mind and attitudes. I want to be more like you. Help me speak words of encouragement and be an uplifting part of the Body of Christ. Help me deal with my disappointments maturely and in a way that brings you glory. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

From Disappointment to Bitterness

resentment: a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will.

Anger and ill-will is a sign that I have held unforgiveness in my heart. From this unforgiveness I have not behaved as I should. “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him” {1 John 2:10}. If I had dealt with my unforgiveness and resentment earlier then there would have been no stumbling. But. I didn't.

 photo quotes-lifeclass-forgiveness-martin-luther-king-jr-600x411_zps76e93a49.jpg

Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. {Hebrews 12:15}

We are given fair warning! WATCH OUT! Look for that root, expect it to come and deal with it as it does. The Bible says that it is poisonous, that it grows and will trouble and corrupt you. Well I can tell you that it does. It robs you of peace. It robs you of joy. It consumes you. It's poison getting into every part of you, skewing your views on everyone and everything. It ceases to be directed at one person or circumstance, but spews out bitterness like a geyser, and there is no control of the flow. The Bible tells us what to do with bitterness:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you {Ephesians 4:31-32}

We are to get rid of it! Dispose of it. Chuck it away. Remove it from ourselves. We are to change how we act and respond to one another. Be kind, be tenderhearted and forgive. Either way, it's a decision. We can decide to hold on to our anger and bitterness, we can choose to speak harshly or gossip nastily OR we can choose to be kind and forgiving. 

It's all up to us. 

We can do it my way, or God's way. We can allow my flesh to rule and continue on being bitter, or we can exercise self control and show the God who is living in us through our actions. It's our choice

Lord please rip out that root of resentment and bitterness. Replace it with goodness, kindness and self control. Help me to remember your word and your views on bitterness and unforgiveness. Help me to see a root trying to take hold and to deal with it promptly. Amen

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


After my last post, I have finally got my thoughts together and have been trying to learn where I went wrong. In a nutshell it's this: I have been disappointed in our church. I have felt impatient and annoyed because certain things that I felt should have happened were not happening. I have felt disappointed because my giftings have not been used. I have felt disappointed because friends keep leaving the church - and I have blamed the church (wrongly). I have felt discouraged because I did not attend church for months (due to my special needs son) and I did not receive any pastoral care of any kind for months and months. I have been disappointed. I'm a wounded church goer. I'm one of those "Offended" church-goers - the ones I used to make fun of!

Being disappointed is ok - but it's what you do with your disappointment that really counts. I did not handle mine well at all. In fact mine turned into bitterness and I developed a critical spirit. This is an incredibly ungodly and destructive attitude to have and I have exercised ungodly and destructive behavior as well. I did not realize until recently just how dangerous I have been! I have failed miserably! But I am not discouraged! I read a great blog post by Plumbline (awesome blog by the way and I highly recommend it) and she said:
"Even in the failure, there is a redemptive quality - when the failure is an open door for God to begin afresh in us what we could not do through "mental determination"
I am at the end of myself. I can't make myself into this amazing, gracious, person. But God can! This is part of the refinement process and I am more than happy for God to do the work. God is reshaping me and molding my thinking to be more like his. Over the next few blog posts, I want to share with you what God has shown me and how he has had to change my thinking.

Unreasonable expectations of the church and leadership has let me down

(of a person) Sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill one's hopes or expectations.
(of hopes or expectations) Prevented from being realized.
 photo tumblr_m71pnb5ue41rataypo1_400_zpsf408703b.jpg

Nicely said Shakespeare. Expectation is the root of all heartache. I can't believe I didn't get this earlier! I have experienced someone else's unrealistic expectations on me. The person is perpetually disappointed in me because I don't know about these expectations or I don't let them control how I live my life. Expectations are annoying!!  But yet, I have had expectations in our church and Pastors and they haven't delivered. Big surprise? Well looking at it from this angle - I can say that no, it's not a surprise. But while I was in the thick of it, it was a great source of frustration to me. How could they muck it up so badly??

Years ago I left a smaller church where I had more input and influence to go to a much larger church where I was a nobody. I was used to how things ran in the smaller church and I don't like how things are run in this much larger church. This is my own problem and attitude - not anyone else's. I have to learn to adjust, submit to my leaders and trust that God is working even though I don't understand it. They are doing their best and I have to recognize that and stop being such a know-it-all! It's not the Holy Spirit that is telling me that everything they do is wrong - it's my critical spirit!

Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit {Hebrews 13:17} It is in my best interest to submit to my leadership and trust that God is using them. They have such a huge responsibility (one that I wouldn't want!) and that is to watch over the congregation and help them grow spiritually. My daughter sometimes can be quite difficult. She is stubborn, sassy and can be quite argumentative. Trying to guide and train her can become wearisome. At least she has an excuse (she is on the spectrum too) - what kind of excuse do I have for behaving like a child? The answer is none!

My problem was I wasn't trusting in God. I was placing expectations on men and women who are human, who are going to make mistakes, and probably have no idea that I have these expectations! This is what the Lord says:“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. {Jeremiah 17:5} My trust was not placed in God, but in humans. It was only a matter of time! I have had to shift my expectations off the church and it's leadership and place them on God who will never let me down or disappoint me. Why? Because God is faithful. God keeps his promises. God is Good. “My soul, waits silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:5).

Lord I messed up! I placed my faith in man and not in you. I have been hurt and disappointed - not because I have been attacked or hurt intentionally - but because I had unrealistic expectations. Help me to recognize when I do this. Help me to submit to my leadership and trust that you are working all things together for good. Lord when I don't understand what on earth is going on around me, please help me to rest quietly in you. Help me to accept the authority that you have placed them in. Help me to be a support, not a hinderance to those you have annointed and placed in our church. Amen

Monday, April 8, 2013

Clean me up

 photo psalm51c_zps8b0dcda0.jpg

I've messed up. God revealed to me last night something that had developed within my spirit that was less than stellar. I have had to repent of this - and the amazing thing is that in my repentance, my spirit felt free. More free than it has in ages. How long has this sin bound me in chains? I have allowed myself to a slave to sin and it has restricted me. But no more!

I will explain all a bit later on when I've got my thoughts together - but I want to share that God dropped this Psalm in my heart, while I cried out to him - "Create in me a clean heart - and renew a right spirit within me." So today that is my heart cry - that God will renew a right spirit within me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Bondage of Self Esteem # 3

"Self-esteem for the Christian is a paradox: The more of the real thing you have, the less you think about how good you are.The stronger you get, the more you become aware of your weaknesses.
The better you look, the less you care who's looking. The more self-esteem you have, the less self-conscious you are”. {Arla Caraboolad}

The self worth that we should have comes not from understanding yourself and accepting yourself but from an understanding of who God is and your relationship with God. Godly self-worth needs to be centered around Jesus, not yourself. A Godly self-image is seeing yourself as God sees you; no more and no less. True self worth is knowing who you are, but in order to know that, you must know who you belong to. From that knowledge you will be able to understand and accept your value.

Humanistic Self Esteem vs Godly Self Worth

1) Self-esteem is based on what we do and how we behave.
We judge ourselves harshly on our performance around others that we want to impress. How many times do we lay awake torturing ourselves with "I should have said this, or that or behaved a certain way. What will they think of me?" A self esteem based on performance means that we will feel terrible about ourselves when we mess it up. It is human nature to mess up! We imprison ourselves when we base our self worth on this.

Godly self esteem says otherwise. God's love of us is not based on anything. He loved us first, he extended his gift of Salvation first. His love for us never changes. It is constant and everlasting. He loves us even when our behavior or performance slips. To him, we are more than what we do and how we behave. A self worth based on God's thoughts towards us will never bind us.

2) Self-esteem is based on how we feel about ourselves.
Let's face it, humans are fickle. They love you one moment, hate you the next. You are best friends one moment, fighting the next. We love spending time together one moment, need some space the next. We bag out that drug addict singer one moment and when she is dead rave about how much we loved her. Human emotion is not to be trusted. How we feel about ourselves is decided on what is going on around us at the time - like a thermometer. It is influenced by it's environment.  You reacted badly to a piece of news - you are a bad person. You gave money to a charity - you are a good person. You saved a man's life - man you totally rock!! You hate that your best friend is pregnant and you have been trying for years - you are a terrible, terrible person. You got a promotion - I must be awesome. You got laid off - I must suck.

How God feels about us is like a thermostat, it influences it's environment, keeping it steady and remaining unchanging. Godly self worth does not fluctuate wildly like self esteem does. It is steady and strong.

3) Self-esteem is based on what we think about ourselves.
Some of us loathe ourselves. We are too fat, too thin, too ugly, have a big nose, have a terrible laugh, have no personality, have no skills in certain areas etc. What we think about ourselves are usually a bit warped. For example (this is a true thought pattern that happened) A person in authority made a stupid joke. This guy jokes around all the time and puts people down in jest a fair bit. So after this terrible joke I did a sarcastic fake laugh thinking "if it's acceptable for him to do it, it should be acceptable for me to do it." His response was not positive. In fact I think I offended him! So... here begins my thoughts "Oh no. I don't think he liked that. Oh dear, he didn't laugh like I thought he would. He's looking at me strangely. Oh no, he thinks I'm a bad person, I AM a bad person! How could I be so rude? Think before you speak Skip! Now you just muffed any chance of getting to use your giftings in the church. He will hold that against you. You deserve it you dimwit! You nobody! Man, you can't do anything right. Just shut your mouth and don't say anything. Now you are going to have to try and make up for it. Stupid STUPID girl."

 photo bang-head-on-wall_zpscc245fe3.jpg

You can relax, my self worth was not influenced by my crazy thinking. It doesn't stop the crazy thoughts, it's just that I learn to dismiss them and not believe the lies of the enemy. I am not stupid. I am not a bad person. I misjudged the situation. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Who cares what I thought?

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." {Isaiah 55:8-9}
What we think about ourselves is very harsh and usually very warped - like my own thoughts after this relatively minor event. Thankfully I know that my thoughts about myself are less than true. God's thoughts towards me are 100% true though and I can rely on them to be constant and reliable.

4) Self-esteem is based on how we’re doing compared to others.
 photo Comparison-is-the-thief-of-joy_zpsa411b994.jpg

Let's face it, when we compare to others, we tend to feel even worse about ourselves. They are better than me, they have more than me, they look better than me etc etc. The truth is, no matter how amazing we are at any given thing, there will always be somebody better.

Remember what Paul said? But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!{2 Corinthians 10:13-14}

We are running our own race, walking our own journey, living our own lives, making our own choices. I have been created unique and individual and in the image of God. There should not be any comparison to any other person. God doesn't do it! "I wish Skip would be more like Billy Graham. Why can't you be more like Martin Luther?" So if God doesn't do it, why should I do it?

5) Self-esteem is based entirely on judgments, whether from others or from ourselves.

When criticized for doing something wrong or whatever - does your whole self esteem plummet? Do you respond harshly and angrily? Do you feel like you are nothing? Criticism when you are secure in who you are and whose you are should not effect you so drastically than if your security lies in your self esteem. Don't get me wrong, no one likes to be criticized, but if we have a Godly self worth, criticizm will not destroy us.

 photo selfesteem_zps675fb9a3.jpg

Judging and being judged is not Godly. End of story.
"Do not judge others" {Matthew 7:12}

Godly self-worth is not based on what other's think of you, or what you think of you - but how God sees you and values you and loves you. God does not see you as a “personality” but as a “soul,” with unchanging potential and worth. 

6) Self esteem is rooted in fear.
A fear of failure, a fear of your built up self esteem to crumble.... again! A fear of rejection. A fear of judgement. A fear of criticism. A fear of not being liked. A fear of all your failings rearing it's ugly head again. Fear is crippling and binding. 

 photo hands-in-chains-2_zps9f9c8815.jpg

Fear has no place in Godly self worth.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline {2 Timothy 1:7}

We have nothing to fear if our worth is based on God's love for us. Nothing. His opinion of us will never change. We will always be his kids and his love for us is so vast. 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. {Romans 8: 38-39}

Don't sell yourself short. Don't buy the whole "love yourself", "accept yourself" and "forgive yourself" "look for inner beauty" lies. Not only are they unbiblical, but they will wrap chains around you, inhibiting you and preventing you from living a life of freedom. Don't look within yourself, look up and out towards your Creator. You were made in HIS image, you are HIS child, and you need to know HIM in order to understand your value and place in this world. Stop reading books on how to feel beautiful and how to love the inner you. Open your Bible and start learning about the Father who created you and loves you. Use what you have learned as a weapon against the lies of the enemy! Start living a life of freedom and possibility instead of accepting humanistic lies and allowing yourself to become a prisoner of self esteem. 

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. {Isaiah 64:6}

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Bondage of Self Esteem # 2

 photo self-esteem1_zps7a6ab14b.jpg

Many people try and justify self love by quoting this scripture: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” {Matthew 22:37-39}
Let's look at this closely. Jesus was asked by the Pharisees what the most important commandment from the law. He answered them with "love God and love your neighbour". There was not a third commandment chucked in there. Loving yourself is not a commandment. We are not told to love our neighbour AND ourselves, but AS ourselves.

So we are to love ourselves? Does this contradict what I have been saying? No. When we love someone like we love ourselves, we are going to assume that we have a desire for our own well being. We shower, we wear clean clothes, we eat healthy meals, we drink water, we exercise (well some of us do anyway! LOL), we live in healthy environment, when we are sick we go to the doctor etc. When Jesus said love your neighbour as yourself, he is saying "have the same concern for your fellow man/woman as you do for your own needs. If someone is hungry, feed them. If they are unhealthy, help them get back to health. "etc etc. You get the idea.

 photo love_your_neighbor_period_zps872ae6e5.jpg

"Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us."{Romans 12:3}

The Bible tells us to not think we are better than we really are and to measure yourself by the faith God has given us. I'll be honest with you - when I look at my inside this is what I see:
Bad attitudes
Critical spirit

And this is ok. Because I am a sinner! I can't look at my inside and fool myself that I have "inner beauty". This is not beauty. This is ugly!! And this is ok - because when I am honest in my evaluation of my heart, I am enabling God to say "These are the areas I want to work in your life." If I glossed over these very ugly traits and looked into my heart and only compassion, kindness, love, creativity, inspiration, words of wisdom etc, then I am doing myself a big diservice. I am silencing God and his desire to make me more like himself. I am saying to myself "I don't have to change because I am beautiful. "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. {Psalm 10:4}

 photo image_zps5ea29d5c.jpg

When one starts to self-love pride will become a real problem. Love in it's Biblical definition opposes this. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. {1 Corinthians 13:4} It is written in the Bible that God doesn't look too kindly on pride. So we aren't to loathe ourselves, but yet we are not to focus on our self esteem. Where is the balance?

In Paul's letter to the Church in Corinth he says
"Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant! We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us... {2 Corinthians 10:12-14}

So I can boast that God has helped me deal with my explosive temper. By God's grace I have been changed from a bitter, abusive, nasty, hateful person into what God has made me today. I have been given boundaries in the areas of myself that I can take pride in. I can take pride in where God has lead me and how God has changed me.

What happens if I start to build my own self-esteem and base my self-worth on the areas outside of these boundaries? I will crash and burn! Because I can't hide the ugliness of my sinful self with all these positive traits that I may have forever. Self esteem is like a sand castle - it may look nice a pretty and sturdy, but when there is shift of wind, or sands the whole thing will crumble. Foundations of self worth and self love will crack and crumble and I will be left to rebuild my shattered or shaky self esteem again. This will become a vicious cycle and I will always be a prisoner of this misguided concept of how I should view myself.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. {Proverbs 16:18} It's inevitable. Self esteem will destroy you.


Related Posts with Thumbnails