Archive for October, 2014

A few days ago, I was motivated to call a Christian leader to encourage him in a difficult ministry that he had. As I thought through what I was going to say, I realized that in addition to trying to encourage him, I wanted him to welcome my counsel, something I didn’t think God wanted me to give. So, I eventually decided, I would write a letter telling him of my prayer support, which would give me less of an opportunity to use him to meet my needs.

This is an example of how subtle and deceptive we really are deep inside. We may do good things for bad reasons. As I began to probe my heart in seminary to find out why I did what I did, I was often shocked at what God revealed. Little did I realize how I had used people to determine what I thought of myself. Also, how I sought the approval of others to feel loved, bypassing the true way to a good self-image and being loved by accepting what God thought of me.

Why Get to Know Our Self Better

So, why get to know our self better? Isn’t that self-centered and egotistical? Wouldn’t it be a better use of our time to get to know God better through increasing our Bible knowledge?

The answer is “No.”

Certainly, knowing more Bible enables us to know more about God and can lead to knowing God better. But so can knowing our self lead to experiencing God in deeper ways.

If we don’t know our self very well, we can do right things for wrong reasons and cling to idols that hinder our growth in experiencing God’s grace and power.

We are great deceivers and the one we fool the most is our self.

Isaiah described the human heart as feeding “on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself or say, ‘Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?’” (Isaiah 44:20). The human heart in Isaiah’s day couldn’t discern how foolish and futile worshipping a block of wood was to success in life!

We often focus on outward behavior in trying to live like Jesus. We often ignore what is going on deep inside of us. And yet, our motives are what God focuses on.

‘“Are you so dull?’ Jesus asked his disciples. ‘Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body (No harm, no foul). But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man sinful. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man sinful; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him sinful” (Matthew 15:16-18, paraphrased).

Getting to know what is going on deep inside of us and what motivates us is critical to cooperating with God in being freed from our bondage to sin.

And one of the biggest sin bondages is our reliance on the collection of idols we use instead of relying on God’s promises for worth, love, and acceptance. Did you know that your reliance on that position of respect to feel important could be an idol?

How to Get to Know Our Self Better

So, how do we get to know our self better?

One thing we do is to look to God to reveal to us who we are and what we rely on. We too easily fool our self and can’t be depended upon to know our self. “The heart is deceitful above all else and is beyond cure, who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

But God can.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). I pray this often to know myself and to be transformed into the person God had in mind when he willed me to exist.

But you may say. “But God may reject me if he knew how sinful I am deep within. I don’t know if I should air my dirty laundry to him.”

But God says, ‘”I already know what is going on deep within you “and never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), I will love you no matter what you are deep within (Jeremiah 31:3, paraphrased), and you will always be precious to Me, no matter what’” (Isaiah 43:4, paraphrased).

So let’s get to know our self better so that we can cooperate with God in becoming free of our bondages and increasingly live the wonderful life that God has planned for us!



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Is That All There Is?

Many years ago, singer Peggy Lee asked the question, “Is that all there is?” in a song. From my memory, these are some lines from that song:


Is that all there is? Is that all there is?

If that’s all there is, my friend, then let’s keep dancing.

Let’s break out the booze and have a ball.

If that’s all, …there is.


It is a sad and hopeless song that saw the meaninglessness of life.

But, is that all there is?

No! Life was intended to be an exciting adventure following God. I discovered this at the age of 26 after I had failed to find sufficient meaning in a career, education, romance, and pleasure seeking.

Several years ago, I wondered if the discipleship I offered men could be deeper. I wondered if I could learn to help them be transformed in deeper ways. I wondered, “Is this all there is?”

No! I went to seminary to study how to disciple men better and found that there were many concepts and practices I did not know or do that could help men to be transformed at the deepest levels.

Then, yesterday I talked to a depressed man who was struggling to find usefulness in his retirement years. He was comfortable and had no external forces on him to do much of anything. He wondered, “Is this all there is?”

I said to him, “No! God has prepared many things for you to be and do in your retirement years.” “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works, which God has prepared in advance that we should do” (Ephesians 2:10).


Why We Think That’s All There is


Many of us think that this is all there is because we have been deceived into believing the lies of the evil world under Satan’s control. “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

Satan tries to sell us a false narrative that life is largely meaningless, that Christianity is following the rules, and that we are over-the-hill when we retire. All of this narrative is false!

What the narrative misses is the loving, intimate relationship that God offers us to face and overcome the challenges of meaninglessness, ministry, and usefulness.

Yet, we tend to cling to the pain we know, afraid to venture out into the unknown fully controlled by Someone who loves us dearly and can move heaven and earth to help us. We prefer to believe, “Yes, that’s all there is.”


How To Pursue More


To pursue all there is, we must have the courage and be willing to take risks. Listen to this inspiring excerpt from a speech by President Teddy Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

May we never accept the lies of the world, but embrace the truth that Jesus promises us, “I have come that you may have a truly meaningful and fulfilling life” (John 10:10, paraphrased).

May we never believe, “That’s all there is.”

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