Archive for January, 2017

We all have been encouraged to dream big dreams- to stretch ourselves- to chase the impossible dream. Over the weekend, I saw the movie La La Land that stressed the importance of two people pursuing their career dreams at the expense of having a once-in-a lifetime romance and marriage.

As I reflected on the movie, I concluded that we need to be balanced in pursuing our dreams- because those dreams can keep us from attaining more important things. We have’t to accept the fact that we can’t do everything. Even with God’s help, we are limited.

Accepting our limits is an important step in developing emotional maturity. When we live in denial of our limits, we often overextend ourselves trying to go far beyond our energy, intelligence, or our abilities. This leads us to pursue illusions and fantasies that waste our potential and leaves us feeling discontent.

Through the years, I have used illusions and fantasies to sometimes live in a false reality of importance and acceptance. More than once I got myself into jobs that were overwhelming simply because I wouldn’t admit my limits and go a different direction.

For example, I once envisioned myself as a charismatic and successful military leader in the mold of a General Patton. Living this illusion got me to a significant level of responsibility in the Air Force. However, it was far beyond my abilities. Fortunately, God protected me from the consequences of pretending to be someone of greater abilities and commitment and I wasn’t fired. But we can’t always count of that happening.

Thus, it’s important to accept our limits. First, it is totally unnecessary to deny them. We falsely believe that unless we achieve a certain level of power, respect, and looks we aren’t worth much. But that’s a lie!

We don’t have to be great in our looks, abilities and achievements to be important and precious to God. We can afford to be real with ourselves because no limit will ever rob us of the respect and dignity that he gives (Isaiah 43:4).

As mentioned, another reason to accept our limits is to count the cost. With great career success, we will often encounter some family failure. With putting God first, we will probably not have as much career success. We need to make choices based on accepting our limits.

A third reason to accept our limits is to be able to receive God’s grace. Unless we accept our limited ability to be the smartest, best educated, and most influential, we will continue to strive to find greatness in ourselves- which will never happen. We will never be able to do enough, and impress enough to consistently feel important, loved, and safe. Only through accepting our limits will we become humble enough to accept the gift of worth and love from God. “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Let’s not live in La La Land but be honest with ourselves about our limits. It’s OK to have limits. They don’t change who we are. Let’s be true to who we are and together with God pursue maturity and fruitfulness in doing his work.

Read Full Post »

Are You Deceived?

We live in a world that seeks to deceive us. Often we fall for the lies that surround us or reject the truth that we know.

We can be tricked and fooled into depending on lies such as

  • You are what others think you are
  • Your worth depends on your achievements
  • You need to be married to be happy
  • You need power to be successful

The Bible contradicts each of these statements. If we trust in these lies, we are deceived; I feel embarrassed to say that I have trusted in each of these lies at some time in my life.

It will not be easy to avoid being deceived. The whole world lies in the power of Satan who is known as the Great Deceiver (1 John 5:19). So, it’s not surprising that this world is flooded with deception – people deceiving and being deceived. So, how do we avoid being deceived and live a life that truly is best for us?

Probably the most important thing we can do is to know what the truth is. To detect a deception, we need to know what makes that deception a lie. Knowing and understanding what the truth is can protect us from smooth and persuasive sermons and books that would deceive us.

For example, one common deception is that if we try hard to be good, go to church, and follow the rules we will go to heaven. But if we believe that, we are deceived. The truth is that only if we rely on Jesus’ death on the cross will we go to heaven (John 1:12).

Another common deception is that although we are going to heaven by relying on Jesus’ death on the cross, we grow spiritually trying hard to do the right things. But if we believe this, we are deceived. The truth says that we grow spiritually the same way as we go to heaven; by relying on Jesus (Colossians 2:6-7).

But instead, many of us listen to sermons, do Bible studies, go to conferences, and have Quiet Times as if these actions alone will cause us to grow. But if we don’t depend on the Holy Spirit, doing these activities will not lead to much growth.

Another way we can avoid being deceived is to look carefully at the true person behind the words. Politicians are notorious for deceiving us. They often tell us what we want to hear and hope we will never be able to hold them accountable. We need to check their deeds to make sure that they match their words.

And a final way we can avoid being deceived is to grow spiritually. For example, our pride can lead us to be deceived. We think that we can handle life just fine. Then we become overwhelmed by troubles and if we are wise realize we have been deceived. We realize that we need God desperately to just get through a day.

So, let’s not be fooled and misled by the world around us, Satan and our own pride. Let’s not be deceived. May we instead know what the truth is, examine carefully what is presented, and allow God to transform us into people who are not deceived.




Read Full Post »

Being A Nobody Can Be Good

Most of us want to be a Somebody. If feels good when others look up to us and show us respect. It reassures us that we are important, loved, and accepted. However, others of us seek being a Somebody through doing a significant work to help people, even though few notice.

I have sought to be a Somebody since my teen years. Not so much to be famous or rich but to accomplish something that would be a benefit to mankind. I pursued that dream of being a Somebody by providing some leadership to developing the Minuteman Missile Program, thus playing a small part in helping win the Cold War. I also sought the dream of being a Somebody in providing leadership to a church that God would use to transform many lives. That didn’t seem to happen but I trust my efforts weren’t wasted. And in the last few years I have pursued the dream of being a Somebody by seeking to bring a deeper spirituality to the national church through a book, blogging, and teaching what I learned in seminary. This also has been disappointing, but I’m trusting that a few lives have been deepened through my efforts.

Did these pursuits make me a Somebody? No. Even if the results had been better these efforts would not have made me a Somebody. What I’m learning is that what makes me a Somebody is being important to God. Being a Somebody to people will never be as great. Yet, most of us never get beyond the rat race of trying to be a Somebody in the eyes of people.

Why Be a Nobody?

Being a nobody in the eyes of people helps us seek importance from God. We can be deceived by our busyness, titles, and reputation to regard ourselves as a Somebody through our own efforts, instead of depending on God to make us a Somebody. This often leads us to try to be a Somebody to people by gaining power, fame, and fortune. But God says to us, “But if you long for these things, you will be trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that will plunge you into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9, paraphrased).

Accepting being a Nobody in the eyes of people, frees us more to pursue godliness, loving others, and growing in our faith (1 Timothy 6:11). We will be seeking to please the One to whom we are a Somebody.

Being a Nobody to the world helps us to develop our humility. We depend more on God’s grace to be a Somebody rather than on our achievements.

A final benefit in being a Nobody to others is that it helps us to focus on doing God’s will, not what will increase our reputation to people. How well we follow God’s will is the standard God will use to judge our works, not how much others respect us.

How to Be Content Being a Nobody

So then how do we live contently doing our little thing in a world of feverish activity driven by the desire to be Somebody? Moses looked ahead to the joys of heaven as “he chose ill-treatment with the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25, NASB). He gave up being a Somebody to people to be a Somebody in heaven.

Or we can avoid comparing the glory others receive from people to our own. We don’t want to measure ourselves by ourselves and show we don’t understand that God uniquely created each of us for specific good works. Some of those good works make us Somebodies to others but most of them are unnoticed or undervalued and make us Nobodies to most people.

Finally, this war belongs to God. Only his power will win it. He allows us to be a soldier in his army. Whether as a general or a private we are honored to fight on the winning side. May our focus be on the Somebody we serve and trust that he has already made us special beyond all human comparisons.



Read Full Post »