Realistic thinking

Paul encourages us to think realistically about ourselves, “I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.” Rom 12:3 Thinking about ourselves with sober judgement also suggests we are not to consider ourselves worse than we are! The body of Christ, when practicing their unique expression of the Spirit’s gifts, keeps us honest about who we are.

Without even knowing it, we often relate from a false sense of who we truly are. Our false self lives in one of two camps, with an ego either extremely elevated or totally deflated. The first cannot tolerate any blemish or shadow on its bloated sense of self, the other cannot integrate any sense of value or worth. They appear very different from one another but they are two expressions of the same process, an attempt to prove ourselves good, lovable and significant.

Our inflated ego keeps our false self safe by believing, “I’m good, I’m important, God must be pleased with me”; people must be kept at a distance in order to protect our false sense of security. Their displeasure or disapproval of who I am could puncture the fragile membrane that keeps my false self intact.

On the other hand, believing we are worthless and unlovable, causes us to draw people toward us who will be the voice that tells us “You’re good, you’re important, God must be pleased with you.” All in an attempt to strengthen the false self by convincing ourselves that we are okay.

God’s truth spoken through the living Word and through the words of our brothers and sisters in Christ deals a death blow to the false self. You see, God’s word pronounces us guilty even when we do not feel guilty (inflated ego) and it pronounces us not guilty and righteous, even when we do not feel righteous at all (deflated ego). The truth is we are sinners, but we are beloved sinners. We are worse than and better than our false selves would have us believe.

God dissolves the false self by placing God’s word and truth in the gifts of another, be that other a servant, a teacher, an encourager, a giver, or one who shows mercy. Living in a community, that practices her spiritual gifts allows our true selves to be realized. We need each other. We need God’s school of grace called community; it is our tutor in truth.

Into which camp to you fall, the deflated or inflated ego? How do you see it playing out in your relationships with others? Speak with God about what you discover.

How have you been impacted by the spiritual gifts of another? Invite the Holy Spirit to use you and your gifts to build the body of Christ.

Your job – to awaken hope!

Dear Elle,

You are an important person in God’s plan! You have been given a particular assignment and Jesus sends you into the world to proclaim the good news and cast out demons. (Mark 3:13-15)

Proclaiming the good news – announcing life. Casting out demons – destroying death. Two sides of the same coin. The people you love need the whole penny! Announcing the good news is the first order of business.The flock you shepherd needs to hear your voice telling them of the hope the gospel brings.

Good news is necessary and so needed in this world of ours. Most of us, knowingly or not, live in the conviction that bad news reigns. We look around and see destruction seeming to march in victory. Sure there are little pockets of life-sustaining activities operating in the midst of death-dealing events and circumstances, but they seem the minority, the underdog, the exception.

And when we turn our attention away from the big picture of the world’s situation and look within our own souls, we are even more convinced that darkness and disease has the upper hand. Of course within our soul, there are exceptions to the death principle at work within us (thank you God), but there is plenty of evidence that proves darkness and death still has control over a lot of our thoughts, emotions and actions. Ask St. Paul. He talked about his own struggle with this conflict in Romans 7. We might despair…

…except for the announcement of the good news –  the Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near (Matt.10:7). Hope stirs. “If the Kingdom of Heaven has come near to me, here and now, maybe there is hope. If God has come close, if the power and authority of the rule of God is available, Life has a chance. I can dare to hope that God’s love and power can bring life the  death’s outposts in the territory of my soul. Praise our God.”

Which leads to the other side of this coin – the casting out of demons, which I’ll talk about in my next letter.

With you in the journey,

Debby

Your amazing life! (part two)

What you love can be the means through which God asks you to share the good news!

Dear Elle,

You have accepted God’s gracious invitation to come away and be with Jesus. You’ve climbed the mountain to sit with him and hear his voice.

His voice speaks love into your heart, acceptance to your soul, loving correction to your habits, all evidence of the good news of the Kingdom come near you! And now his voice offers you an assignment. He appoints you to carry out a particular task, a role that is perfectly suited for you, your talents, your temperament, your gifts, your interests, your station in life – this assignment has your name written all over it!

The appointment you’ve been given is not necessarily your livelihood (although that would be ideal!) It is the part of God’s heart you’ve been asked to carry. It is the flock Jesus asks you to shepherd. Consider your life. What ignites your passion? What stirs your anger? For whom or what does your heart break? These are indicators of your assignment.

A friend of mine likes to ask people “What floats your boat?” This is his way of asking a person about the activities, causes or peoples that energize and animate his or her life . Notice what you think about when your not thinking about anything in particular. Where does your mind wander, this is another indicator of your particular assignment.

You love music – writing it, playing it, teaching it. No one forces you to sit at the piano and play. You are drawn to it, you enjoy it, it challenges and sharpens you. This is the means through which God asks you to share the good news.

Some people’s assignment is not as obvious as yours. Jack, for instance, loves writing screenplays. He desires to write a script that will be made into a movie. This doesn’t seem very spiritual does it? Except that his writing requires discipline, he must submit to the exercise of sitting at his computer and writing. Such discipline shapes his soul. And his love of the craft has caused him to gather other people who share this affinity. He meets weekly with 10-12 people to encourage creativity and to foster relationship. He brings Jesus with him to these friends. They know the love of God through Jack’s love of them. That’s his assignment.

We can talk further about identifying this particular assignment of yours, but the best first step you can take is to look inside your heart.

With you in the journey,

Debby