Archive for October, 2012

I have been trained to see myself as others see me, or how I think they see me. It is embarrassing to me to admit that in some areas I still tend to see myself as my mother did long ago regarding my looks. I felt unacceptable and diminished when she pointed out to me my appearance flaws.

So, when I think about it, it is not too surprising to me that I was disturbed the other night when I caught my image in a mirror that showed that I was nearly bald on top. My thinning hair on top nearly disappeared in the bright lights of the room. It was as if the top of my head was stamped with “shame, “unacceptable,” and rejected.” So, without thinking, I did what I usually do, which was to try to put the image out of my mind.

I chose to believe that my worth and acceptability depended on not being bald on the top of my head. I could not believe in that moment that being bald on top did not diminish me in God’s eyes. However, I then came to my senses.

Before I could put the image out of my mind, I decided to change the image to match the truth. Instead of “shame”, “unacceptable”, and “rejected” stamped on the top of my head, I now saw “approved,” “loved,” and “precious” stamped on the bald top of my head. I knew that God accepted me with or without hair. There was absolutely no flaw in me that would ever cause him to reject me. So, I decided to put off the old image and put on the new one.

So, the next morning when I noticed in the mirror that I had an absence of hair on top, I pictured “approved”, “loved”, and “precious” stamped all over it. Now, I am beginning to feel differently about my thinning hair. It is no longer a source of shame, but a trigger to praise God and his grace, and to feel good about myself. I am retraining myself to see myself as God sees me.

I encourage you to ask God to help you discern where you are seeing yourself less than the way God sees you. For example, you may not see yourself as very important because of your looks, your achievements, or what people think of you. Baloney! You are important! God says, “You are precious in My sight, you are honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4). We need to put off the old ways of seeing ourselves, and with God’s help, see ourselves as God sees us.

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My trips to the mailbox for much of the last three weeks have been tense. The reason has been that I could be getting my lab results from my annual physical. In the past, the results have usually been good. However, in recent years, about half the time they have had a test or two outside the normal range that needed some follow-up.

So, why was I afraid? I was afraid because I have been well trained to fear bad unless there is solid evidence to keep my fears in check. In this case, I could get bad news and this was enough to trigger the fears.

After a few days of tensing up on the way to the mailbox, I came to my senses and realized that my spirit needed to be retrained. God did not want me to continue to live life like he did not exist. He is my strength and every lab score was under his control. So, from that day on, on the way to the mailbox, I began to thank God for his faithfulness through the years to keep me healthy. I also thanked him for how he would help me deal with any score outside the normal range. My fears began to decrease as I realized what an awesome God I had taking care of me.

This may seem trivial to you. You may think that the easier way for me was to just gut it out, be fearful, get good lab results, and move on. Yet, the problem with this is that I remain unchanged. I will be fearful again when lab results are expected in the mail. I will continue to live in bondage to the sin of not trusting God.

Lately, I have recognized how often I have automatic responses to life’s circumstances that are not godly. I think you do too. When we become aware of these, we need to cooperate with God in our growth by practicing simple exercises that help drill truth into our hearts to counteract the ungodly habits trained in there for years. Simply giving thanks for God’s past faithfulness on the way to the mailbox has helped me to face lab test results in the future in a more godly way.

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Living in the Fourth Mansion

I have been puzzled in the last few months that so many of my attempts to help out in one ministry or another have been refused. These are ministries that I am good at and have something to give. Besides feeling disappointed and some hurt by the refusals, I sensed a quiet desperation in me that screamed that I had to serve. I had to serve not only to help people, but also I had to serve to regard myself as worthwhile and acceptable.

The latest example happened last week. I volunteered to lead a small group at our church. However, as time went by, I was not notified of anyone assigned to my group. However, everyone else I talked to who had volunteered to lead a group had been assigned a number of people. So, I made some calls but got no response.

As I pondered what God could be doing in all of these refusals, I happened to read something that I had written about living in the fourth mansion. Living in the fourth mansion is a stage of spiritual maturity characterized by learning to rest in who we are, not what we do. At this stage, we learn to receive worth and acceptance as gifts, not seeking to earn them through being busy. We learn that no ministry or anything else we do adds anything to our worth and acceptance to God.

So, I began the process of accepting still another refusal for my services as part of the maturing process that God was taking me though. Then, the door opened. A friend of mine urged me to try one more time to contact the church. So, I did and connected this time and found out that they did not have my contact information. So, as soon as I gave them my contact information, the names began to come in and the group has grown to a nice size.

So, what was God doing in all of this? I think one thing was to remind me to learn to rest in my worth and acceptance I already have from him, and not what I can earn by being active in the ministry. If he leads me to do nothing, so what? I do not lose any worth or acceptance. He does not want me to misuse his ministry that he gives me for a phony attempt to earn worth. He wants me to learn to receive worth and acceptance as a gift by living in the fourth mansion. This will make me free to serve for the right reasons.


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