Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Smile! God Loves You!

Because of Christ and His redemption I am completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. I am totally accepted by God

If you grew up like I did, the above statement probably seems foreign to you. My church background and training taught me pretty much the opposite. I believed that I was never 'fully pleasing to God' and that my acceptance was conditional upon my behavior. Because of this, many people live in fear rather than joy and peace.


Romans 5:1 says - Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. This means we should be 'at peace', not in turmoil, not living in fear of rejection. When we don't believe we are fully pleasing and totally accepted by God, we will value the opinions of others far too much. We will seek the approval of others because we think it is 'attainable' whereas God's approval is 'unattainable'. But according to scripture we have been 'justified'.


Colossians 1:21-22 says "And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him." Notice that God has declared you "holy and blameless and above reproach". My theological understanding of this verse has been that this was speaking of "after death". That somehow, after I die, when I stand before God, I will be holy, blameless and above reproach, but while I'm living, I'm not any of these things. But scripture says I've been "reconciled to God" and therefore am fully accepted. That means I don't have to fear rejection.


The bible also declares that Christ is the "propitiation" for our sin. The word "Propitiation" means The removal of God's punishment for sin through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In 1 John the bible says:

1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)
{1} My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. {2} He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

So, according to scripture, Jesus death removed the rightful punishment for our sins - all of them. This isn't a "get out of jail free" card where it makes no difference what I do. I don't want to trample under foot the sacrifice of Christ, but scripturally Christ has removed the punishment for sin. I do not have to suffer wrath of God for sin. Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.

My Armenian background has left me confused on this issue, and perhaps you as well. My understanding didn't include this idea of propitiation. In my understanding, Jesus died for my sin, and when I got saved they were all forgiven. But what about my sinful thoughts, words and actions since then? My Armenian understanding made me feel that these weren't covered until I asked, meaning that I was seemingly always in a state of unacceptability before God. Understand this, Jesus died to forgive all our sin. Past, present and future. Accepting this fact doesn't make us arrogant or proud. It makes us appreciative that our right standing with God is totally dependent upon Christ and not ourselves.


A wrong understanding of my Armenian background has always caused me to stop short of one other very important biblical truth: that of regeneration. We speak of being "new in Christ", but the longer I live with myself, the more I realize that there are many things about me that are still 'the same'. My conclusion, although never spoken, is that this 'new creature' is a euphamism, a metaphor, and not truly a reality. The definition of regeneration includes this statement: "As to the nature of the change, it consists in the implanting of a new principle or disposition in the soul; the impartation of spiritual life to those who are by nature "dead in trespasses and sins."

Illustrated Bible Dictionary: And Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature.

The regeneration happened in my soul and spirit, not my flesh. My flesh wars against the regenerated man inside. Nonetheless, according to scripture, as a child of God, I have been 'regenerated'.

Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)
{4} But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, {5} he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, {6} whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, {7} so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

This regeneration came totally and completely from God. It has nothing to do with me. As believers, you and I have been made complete in Christ. We no longer need to experience the pain of shame. Again, it's not a free pass for bad behavior. It is to free us from the guilt and pain of shame.

Colossians 2:10 (NKJV)
{10} and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

  1. Because of justification, you are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. You no longer have to fear failure.
  2. Because of reconciliation you are totally accepted by God. You no longer have to fear rejection.
  3. Because of propitiation, you are deeply loved by God. You no longer have to fear punishment, nor do you have to punish others.
  4. Becuase of regeneration, you have been made brand new, complete in Christ. you no longer need to experience the pain of shame.

For many, we have lived in constant "unworthiness", continual shame, unending guilt and a feeling of failure. All these are lies from Satan designed to rob you and I of our joy and cause us to have a wrong opinion of who we are, who God is, and what we should value. Remember, Satan's Lie is Self-Worth = my performance + other's opinions of me. God's truth is, as His child, because of Christ and His redemption, you and I are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. You and I are totally accepted by God.

I hope this helps someone today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My True Worth

Are you "an approval addict"? Are you controlled by the fear of others' opinions of you? Welcome to my world. There are a number of reasons people become "approval addicts". It can be that your parents disciplined by withdrawing their affection when you misbehave. But that certainly isn't the only reason. If you get sucked in to this trap, however, it will completely control your life, just like any other addiction. Some are completely controlled by how others view their appearance. They seek surgical options or workout and diet options in order to become "good enough".

Satan has a lie that he has propogated through the ages: Self-Worth=performance+Other's opinions. According to this lie, a persons worth is totally dependent upon how hard they work and how others view the results. The problem with this equation is that peoples opinions are fluid and you never know if you've done enough work to be "of worth". So you try harder! But then, even though 100 people express approval, it only takes the disapproval of one person to totally ruin your day. For the rest of the day, and maybe even the week or longer, that comment in replayed over and over in your mind and controls your mood and your behavior. Eventually, this addiction leads to depression as you can never be totally pleasing to others and are therefore "worthless" in your own eyes.

The question that we need to ask ourselves is this: "why do I value the opinion of those who do not hold me in high regard?" You see, there is an opinion of us that is infinitely more important. It is an opinion where we are held in the highest regard. God considers you of inestimable value and thus gave His Son to purchase you. When you and I received Christ and committed our lives to Him, our sins were completely forgiven. Forgiveness equals acceptance. Acceptance equals worth. God decided you were "worth it" so He gave His son in your place.

The Bible says that God is Love. Using that description of God's Character, look at 1 Corinthians 13 and see your heavenly Father as He is.

My Father is very patient and kind. My Father is not envious, never boastful. My Father is not arrogant. My Father is never rude, nor is He self-seeking. My Father is not quick to take offense. My Father keeps no score of wrongs. My Father does not gloat over my sins but is always glad when truth prevails. My Father knows no limit to His endurance, no end to His trust. My Father is always hopeful and patient.

(Robert S. McGee. The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes (p. 74). Kindle Edition.)

Looking at 1 Corinthians in this way, I hope you can see that true love, God's love, holds you in ultimate regard and treats you accordingly. In contrast, the people that have been controlling your life have done so by behaving in exactly the opposite way that 1 Corinthians describes.

The desire for success and approval constitutes the basis of an addictive, worldly self-worth. Certainly, withdrawal from this dependency may cause us some pain as we change the basis of our self-worth, yet we will begin to discover true freedom and maturity in Christ only when we understand that our lives mean much more than what success or the approval of others can bring. We can do nothing to contribute to Christ's free gift of salvation; furthermore, if we base our self-worth on the approval of others, then we are actually saying that our ability to please others is of greater value than Christ's payment. We are the sinners, the depraved, the wretched, and the helpless. He is the loving Father, the seeking, searching, patient Savior who has made atonement for the lost and has extended to us His grace and sonship. We add nothing to our salvation. It is God who seeks us out, convicts us of sin, and reveals Himself to us. It is God who gives us the very faith with which to accept Him. Our faith is simply our response to what He has done for us. So then, our worth lies in the fact that Christ's blood has paid for our sins; therefore, we are reconciled to God.

Robert S. McGee. The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes (p. 69). Kindle Edition.

I hope this helps to heal or at least bring those of us who need healing, to take a true look in the mirror and respond.


It is very difficult to acknowledge that I have fallen victim to Satan's trap, but I freely confess that my fear of rejection has become the primary motivator in my life rather than the truth of how much You love me. To quote Thomas, "Lord I believe. Forgive my unbelief". I know everything that I've written today is true. I don't know exactly how to embrace it and let it become the driving force in my life. Therefore I need your help and guidance as I learn to accept your approval as the only approval that matters. Help me to understand "who I am" in Christ so that I can experience the joy and peace that Christ promised this relationship would bring. I do not know how to do this on my own and freely admit I am completely dependent on you to 'save me'. Help others who are going through this same struggle. I fear there are many. Heal me and use my experience to heal others if that is your desire. Thank you! I love you!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Delight in your way

Delighting in your way

Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV)
{23} The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; {24} though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.

Yesterday I wrote extensively about this scriputre, but didn't focus on the condition that must be met. This scripture says our steps are established by the Lord. There's two ways to look at this scripture. One, our steps are established by the Lord, and he catches us when we fall -PERIOD. The second is conditional. That when we delight in the path we are on, God catches us when we fall. The inference is that when we dont delight, He doesn't catch.

I read this verse in a few different translations and realize the difficulty in translating the original intent. That said, I will point out the obvious: the unquestioned truth is that if we take joy in our circumstances, God will protect us. Every day is a good day if you know the Lord. Every circumstance in life may not be comfortable, but I can still rejoice in the fact that I'm saved and loved.

So, whatever circumstance you and I are living in, we need to pray and seek for that ability to "delight". I know that's easier said than done. Today I will embark on some 'uncharted territory' in my life and admittedly have a truckload of emotions but delight isn't one of them. So my advice is "pray till the delight comes".


I continue to be "up and down" on this whole concept of 'delighting in my way'. Doubt and confusion at times create that 'fog' that causes me fear and frustration rather than delight. I acknowledge my struggle to truly 'believe' that I can delight in stressful circumstances, but I know that your word is true. I commit myself to delight in my path today, even though I have huge amounts of fear and 'failure feelings' about that path. I will rejoice anyway. This is a good day, because today you will help me become more like your Son. Today is a good day, because you are walking with me. This current journey is a good one because the outcome will be for the glory of God.

So, I choose to delight in my path today. Thank you for letting me walk THIS road.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Make Him Smile: Are You Lost In The Fog?

Make Him Smile: Are You Lost In The Fog?

Are You Lost In The Fog?

Have You Ever Been "Stuck"?

Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV)
{23} The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; {24} though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.

Sometimes in life we can hit a spot where it seems we are sort of "stuck". It isn't that our life isn't good, it's just that it doesn't seem to be "going anywhere". When we lose sight of God's vision for our lives, we tend to get dissatisfied and lost in the fog. I can certainly relate to this subject in my own life. There have been periods when I have lost sight, lost focus, and are seemingly "lost in the fog".

I don't know if you've ever been literally 'lost in the fog' but if you have, you can relate to the analogy. I remember once driving home from West Plains and the fog was so thick that any sensible person would have gotten off the road and waited. Since I'm not sensible, I rolled down my window and was literally driving down the road looking down at the yellow line in the middle of the highway to make sure I stayed on the road. I couldn't see anything in front of me, but I kept driving! By the incredible Grace of God I made it home without incident, but looking back, it was probably one of the most dangerous stunts I've ever pulled! Any obstacle in the road would have spelled disaster. I would have been totally unprepared and unable to stop or to avoid the collision.

In my life, sometimes I get in the fog. I can't see where I'm going and I feel 'lost'. The good news from scripture is that there is a remedy for the fog! "The steps of a man are established BY THE LORD, when HE DELIGHTS IN HIS WAY." To find a way in the midst of the fog to delight in it will result in God establishing our steps! He didn't say 'curse the fog'. He didn't say 'try to get out of the fog'. He didn't say 'just sit still untill the fog lifts'. He said to 'delight IN THE FOG'.

Now I will be the first to admit that this concept makes very little practicle sense, but the bible says that God's ways are different than ours. Therefore, when we find ourselves lost in the fog, we need to delight in it! That's a choice that we make. That's a decision we determine in our own mind and heart and say, OK God. I'm here and I don't know why but let's have some fun!

When I think about the word "delight" I think about my grandkids and how they are so happy doing 'whatever'. Even little Cooper can express sheer delight at the simplest things He can be sitting on Jackie's lap, totally powerless to go anywhere or do anything; 'stuck' if you will;(ALTHOUG BEING STUCK ON NAN'S LAP ISN'T SUCH A BAD THING!) and I can just look at him and open and close my hand to wave at him and he will grin from ear to ear and sometimes even laugh out loud. I have no clue why that motion is so funny to him, but he finds delight in it even though to me it looks like he is 'stuck'.

So, we need to learn from the kids and delight in our situation no matter what it may be. Oh, wait. Didn't scripture say something about that too?

Now, here's the rest of the story. You're stuck in the fog but you've decided to have a party while you're there. You're still walking down the road but you're finding delight in the fog. You're bee bopping along and all of a stumble! Something was in the path and you fell right over it! The good news from scripture is this, "though he fall" (and you will) he shall not be cast headlong for the LORD upholds his hand." Even though we may be unable to see where we are going, even though we may be in the fog, we need to delight that God has allowed us to be there and we need to keep walking. When we stumble;(and stumbling probably looks a whole lot like, uh, .... sin), we need to remember that as long as we are delighting in our journey, even though we stumble, we sin, God is not going to let it destroy us. God Himself is holding our hand!

My favorite scripture has always been Isaiah 41:10. In it, God says "Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will hold you up with my righteous right hand." If you find yourself lost in the fog like me, relax and find a way to delight in your circumstance. Be thankful to God for where you are, even if you don't like it or understand it. Make the conscious choice to "DELIGHT". Keep moving and know that even if you stumble, God is holding your hand!


I admit that I have been lost in the fog for quite some time now. I confess that I've let that lostness cause unhappiness and discontentment in my life. I've become bitter and angry because I don't understand why the fog hasn't lifted. So today, I make a choice. In obedience to your word, I choose to delight in the fog! I thank you that you have allowed me to become lost and confused, and I'm going to delight on my journey today in the fog! I wish I knew where we were going, but I'm just glad that you're in charge of the fog and the journey! So today, I choose to relax in my 'lostness' and just delight in being where I am. I believe that you will catch me if I fall, so I will move forward with confidence and no longer let the fog hold me at a stand-still.
Thank you for being so incredibly patient with hard headed people like me. Forgive me for being selfish and childish in my attitudes and help me to live up to my committment to delight in where I am.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Am I Mis-Aligned to be blessed?

OK, here we go. It's been literally years since I've had the habit of writing on a regular basis and sharing that with my friends. I wish I could tell you exactly why that is, but I'm not sure I even know at this point. What I do know is it is time to reestablish some priorities in my life and reorder some things as well. I won't bore you with the details of why I'm writing today, or what's been going on, I will simply share what God has shared with me this week. Maybe 'confession' will come when I understand more fully what I need to 'confess'.

In our Community Group this past Sunday, we studied about King Asa and the topic, "Signs that your life is mis-aligned to receive God's blessing". There was a list of 8 signs which I will share in a moment. I'm not a mechanic or a car guy. I've just never really been a 'gear head'. Techy stuff is more my thing. However, I do know that sometimes the front end on your vehicle can get out of alignment. Usually, this happens slowly, a little 'bump' at a time, and the car starts to pull one direction or the other, especially when you hit the brakes. Sometimes it can get knocked out of alignment by a huge pot hole or some obstacle in the road. Usually when that happens, we know it immediately.

Sometimes our lives get out of alignment as well. It can come from a huge pothole in the road that really knocks us off course, but more than likely it comes one 'little bump at a time'. We sin but don't confess it and repent. We are hurt or offended but we don't deal with it. Whatever the bump may be, we continue to drive down the road with our hands on the wheel, not even recognizing that there is a force at work trying to steer us off the path. Once the mis alignment gets bad enough, as soon as you take your hands off the wheel, you're in the ditch.

I don't know about your life, but I can look at my own life over the past three or four years and say that there have been some 'major pot holes' and a lot of bumps in the road that have knocked me out of alignment. Let me share those indicators with you now.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV)
{17} For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, {18} as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Psalm 37:22-24 (ESV)
{22} for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off. {23} The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; {24} though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.

The things that break God's heart don't break yours.
You prefer to be isolated from others
Your relationships are strained
You can't remember being part of another persons faith journey
You're fine with all these things
That's all I can remember of the 8 things at the moment, but I think you get the idea.

Here's the real test. It's one thing to acknowledge that these things exist in my life. (or don't exist, whichever the case may be) Recognizing their existence is just the first step. Real healing comes when we allow the Holy Spirit to address these things in our lives and change us.

As I was writing this devotion, I called Todd Braschler to get some information. (or so I thought) Instead I received some 'revelation' and some 'inspiration'. Todd is a good friend. He challenged me that even being ashamed about my condition is its own form of pride. He challenged me to seek the Lord till I could come to a place of rejoicing about this present situation and struggle, believing that God has brought it about in order to align my life with His purpose for me. I will admit, I'm not there yet, but as I write, I realize that scripture is right. Todd is right. And I need to rejoice!

The scripture quoted above from Corinthians challenges me to look beyond what I can see to what God sees for me. I want to challenge you to do the same. Rather than letting your circumstances determine your vision, let God's vision become yours. Let His vision for your life become the prevailing motivator in your life.

We must deal with our sin but we cannot stay there. God brings sin to our attention because He has a better future ahead. Repent. Confess. Follow God's voice, God's direction and look for God's vision for your future. Don't take your hands off the wheel and let your 'mis-alignment' send you in the ditch. Get aligned and enjoy a wonderful trip with the Master!