Archive for June, 2015

Most of us don’t feel significant at least some of the time. Much of life undermines our confidence in being important. From the way people treat us to our standards for perfection, we are challenged to feel that we are much more than a small cog in a huge machine.

I have concocted many ways to avoid feeling insignificant. As a college student I studied engineering to gain significance. I didn’t study it because I liked it or thought I would do a good job – But to gain prestige and with it a feeling of significance.

As a middle-aged man I sought promotion in my career to feel significant. I also sought church leadership to feel good about myself, as well as to do some good to those I sought to minister to.

But life doesn’t always make us feel significant. In my case, I often didn’t get the promotions I sought or when I did the problems that came with them made me feel insignificant. I also found church leadership often made me feel over-my-head and insignificant.

I have spent my entire life running away from insignificance. I have spent enormous energy running away from low self-esteem that was developed in my childhood.

So, what are your reasons that you struggle with feeling insignificant?

Why We Feel Insignificant

One reason we struggle with feeling insignificant is that we assume that if people don’t respect us that much, then we are not respectable. We allow others to define our worth. Most of us don’t have a healthy awareness of how much God respects us to counter the mixed messages that we get from how we are treated by others, including church people.

Another reason we feel insignificant is that we often pursue idols to feel important. These would be things like impressing others, our standards for achievement, and being strong. But these things never will make us feel significant in the long run. Attaining these things will never enable us to escape our feelings of insignificance. They are broken cisterns as described in Jeremiah 2:13.

A third reason for our feelings of insignificance is that it makes sense to think of ourselves as insignificant. “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (Psalm 8:4, NLT). How could we possibly believe that we were significant just using our human reasoning and the facts?

How We Can Feel Significant

So, how do we embrace the reality that we are significant when so many forces are screaming that we aren’t?

First, to escape our feelings of insignificance we need to know that we are significant, right now. We are far more precious to God than we are to anyone else in the world (Isaiah 43:4). Only by stubbornly clinging to this truth can we overcome the avalanche of conflicting massages that bombard us each day.

We also need to drop our bad habit of trying to escape feelings of worthlessness by comparing ourselves to others. We will either develop pride or jealousy as “we measure ourselves by ourselves and are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:12, Paraphrased).

A final thought that may help us escape our feelings of insignificance is to ponder the fact that we have been made like God (Genesis 1:27). He has made us to have a love relationship with him. He longs to be intimate with us and to walk with us through life.

Pondering this, I feel more significant already!

Fede e misticismo

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Walking With God

Father and son playing on the beach at the sunset time. Concept of friendly family.

I have tended to view God as the commander and I his soldier who follows his orders. Nothing wrong with this – but I don’t think this metaphor fully captures the relationship God wants with me.

Let me explain.

A couple of months ago I sensed that God wanted me to organize a neighborhood potluck in a nearby park. I agreed with him that I thought that a potluck would help build relationships between our neighbors that were vitally needed in our Long Ranger culture. I also thought that having closer relationships might have prevented a couple from not being missed for two weeks after they had been murdered in their home.

However, I balked at the idea of being the organizer. “I don’t want to be stuck doing all the work”, I said to God. “You will haven’t to provide me with an energetic team of neighbors who can help me plan and promote this event or I won’t do it”, I said.

But I begin to move in the direction of organizing the event – and God provided an energetic team of seven people. I asked God to help us pick the right day, the right time, and the right stated purpose – and that we would all would have a good time.

The planning group got along great and each did their part well. The police department even offered to give a brief report at the potluck on the status of the murder investigation.

The picnic was considered a big success. Eight-five people came. The weather was great. Many relationships began or were deepened, the police were informative, the kids had a good time playing volleyball and other games, and the greatest miracle of all, and I had a good time. (Usually being in charge stresses me out).

Many people thanked me for organizing the potluck. But I knew the truth. God was the true organizer. He had impressed me with the need and provided an energetic and talented crew of neighbors to do what he wanted done.

I believe I walked with God in organizing this potluck. It wasn’t so much doing something for God, but doing something with God. I grew closer to God with far less stress than when I try to serve God in my own strength.

What Is Walking with God?

Walking with God is leaning on the Holy Spirit within us to live through our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. We have the power to do as Jesus would do because his life is living through us. “Whoever says he [lives] in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6, ESV).

Walking with God is living in the reality of his intimate love for us. He wants our fellowship, and as we include him in our day to face the challenges, we grow in intimacy with him.

Some people object to the belief that God wants to walk with us. They would say that he wants us to follow him, not walk side-by-side with us. Yet, the Bible is full of statements about God walking with his people (Micah 6:8; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 5:22-24; Isaiah 41:10)

I would agree that he wants us to follow him, but in the context of an interactive and intimate partnership where he takes the lead and we cooperate.

I don’t think we can adequately partner with him if we are following ten paces behind. This false picture lends itself to the practice of “Just give me my orders God and I will follow them the best I can in my own strength.”

How Do We Walk with God?

One way we walk with God is to discover what he wants done and join him in doing it. This is what I did in organizing the potluck. I sensed that this was something that God wanted done and wanted me to be a part of it.

So, I stepped out in fear and trembling, relied that he would guide and support, and watched him put on a potluck that was beyond natural explanations. And I grew closer to him in the process.

How we walk with God is to rely on him. We often don’t do this as indicated in this statement from Paul, “After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:3, NLT). We forget to rely on God to make things happen and to accept the humble role of walking with him as he meets our challenges.

Finally, talking to him throughout the day is a wonderful way to walk with him. “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22). God yearns for intimacy with us. When we share with him our joys, struggles, and disappointments in prayer throughout the day, he gives us the power to walk with him.

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Are You Wise?

We are a people who greatly respect those who are well educated and intelligent. We marvel at people who can speak well and who write books.

However, what I have grown to admire even more is someone who is wise. Someone who is wise has taken their knowledge, experiences and intelligence and have made good decisions. These would be decisions like right priorities, having a good marriage, taking care of oneself physically, and living a moral life.

Who cares how smart someone is if they haven’t applied that smartness to living well?

What Wise Living Is Not

Living wisely doesn’t mean having the same standards of honesty as everyone else. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God?” (James 4:4). It is never wise to be dishonest, even if we succeed in the short-run.

Sometimes it means being different. And being different is often costly. A few years ago I tried to teach to my church new ways to grow spiritually that I had learned in seminary. I will admit that some of the teachings broke with tradition, but they all were biblical.

But alas, the teachings were rejected and I was rejected from leadership. But I wouldn’t have been wise to compromise and only teach tradition instead of what God wanted taught.

Living wisely often means living differently than the respected members of our society. The Bible tells us that not many influential, powerful, or rich people are wise (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). Yet, we are prone to model our lives after them.

Living wisely is not seeking what most people seek. Things like pleasure as a major focus, flashy cars, and promotion at the expense of the family. God tells us, “All that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from [Me] but is from the world” (1 John 2:15-17, ESV).

What Wise Living Is          

Living Wisely

Living Wisely

Wise living begins with following God’s will for our life. Does this mean that I wasn’t living wisely until I became a Christian in 1971?

Well, what do you think it means when God says in his Bible, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10)? It means a lot of us are not wise from God’s perspective, no matter how highly others regard us.

Wise living means that we apply the Bible to our life, and not just listen to it. Yet, many of us have been seduced by intellectualism that neglects the clear teaching that only knowledge that is used makes us wise (Matthew 7:24-28).

Wise living is “peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17, ESV). It is not selfish, envious, and boastful (James 3:14-16).

Wise living is being cautious, careful to avoid evil, and being meek (controlled strength).

So, are you wise? Do you want to become wiser? I hope we all can answer with a strong yes to at least the second question.

A promise I often claim is the following:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all [people] generously and without reproach, and it will be given to [them]” (James 1:5.)


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