Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Laying Aside People Pleasing, Running With Fellowship

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I still trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
This chapter in our study is one that can speak to everyone in one way or another. Let's face it, it matters to us how we are perceived. It matters too much. But how do we change?

It is true that it is constrictive and burdensome to have to be constantly worrying about what people think, or what they might think or say...It is actually living a lie if we try to be all things to all people, or all things to some people. Either way we are NOT FREE if we are trying to be something we aren't.

Let's get some help from the Lord in having this burden lifted...truly He is our source for the fulfillment that we crave. He is the only one who understands our heart of hearts, and has perfect love for us. When it is He we seek to please, when we know we have his approval, it enables us to have true fellowship with others without the masks coming between us. Imagine running a race with no one around, how lonely and perhaps futile it would seem... In this race toward eternity, we don't need the distraction or worry of the "what if's", but we do need one another to encourage us along the way. We need to have people to share life with.

Many have heard of Joyce Meyer's book, "Approval Addiction". I have never read it, but every time I hear the title, I know what is in that book. I am a recovering "Performance-based acceptance" person. In other words, my worth depended on how well I performed. If I had approval, I was doing well, if I disappointed people...well, I felt inferior. Like a failure. What a strain in my life. Two times I went through deep anxiety and the second time it went on so long, it turned to depression. I was looking at me so much, no wonder I was depressed. Everything was about how I was doing, or how other's were responding to me. Me, me, me~ugh!

Well, going through a little hell like that helped me learn alot of lessons. You have heard it said, in trial you become bitter, or you become better. The choice is up to you. I think for awhile I was bittter, but now...praise the Lord, I am better.

Knowing you are following what the Lord wants you to do, frees you from unrealistic expectations from others. Let's face it, some people can be demanding & critical. One of the passages of scripture that I love and the Lord used to set me free is: Mark 1:35-38

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.”

When I looked at Jesus' response to the people who wanted him, I realized what freedom looked like. It was focusing on "doing the will of the Father". As Jesus stated many times...that is what he came to earth to do. That is to be my focus. What liberty, and also JOY there is in knowing you are in the center of God's will. Then all the criticism in the world cannot get you down, or into doubting. And we will face it all of our lives. We must learn to focus on Jesus and we must learn that He is our greatest advocate, our defender when we are accused. And we must meet Him daily (as Jesus did in the above passage~He went away to pray) to know what He wants us to do each day and in each situation. So let's put off people pleasing, and walk in freedom.

"Our Lord was never suspicious, never bitter, never in despair about any man, because He put God first in trust; He trusted absolutely in what God's grace could do for any man. If I put my trust in human beings first, I will end in despairing of everyone; I will become bitter, because I have insisted on man being what no man can ever be-absolutely right. Never trust anything but the grace of God in yourself or in anyone else." Oswald Chambers

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Life Lately

Kayla and Andrew...Wedding Sept 4th

This is their official engagement photo. Kayla and Andrew spent three hours with their photographer doing engagement pics. She said she had a really good time with them. She likes to give them the session to get to know them before the big day.

I think we have a very wise photographer! Anything to reduce stress is wonderful for the mother of the bride!! So, they had the option of purchasing the disc, which they did, and can do anything they want with the photos.
They officially have a home now too. So life is moving swiftly for us here...It has been crazy~busy with so much going on, I have been scarce in blogworld.

On top of the yard work that we are doing to get ready for the wedding here on the farm, I have been spending time with people, on the phone, and in prayer. I have been privileged to lift friends up in prayer and encourage them. I find great joy in that.

A dear friend's daughter (age 19) was just diagnosed w/ Lymphoma and has started Chemo Therapy. Another friend's daughter has been diagnosed with Cushing's disease. They are going through testing. She herself ended up with high blood pressure/migraines and in the clinic for tests. Another friend has a son in middle school who's legs were growing crooked, so they had to break them both and screw plates in them. He is not to put weight on them for over two weeks. That makes for alot of work for them. Another friend has had her 6 week old baby in the hospital for a few weeks. He had heart surgery, and then a lung collapsed. I think they are coming home soon though. Trials litter life, but God is good and faithful in the midst of them!

I love that in all these things, we are more than conquerers through Him who loves us.
What would we do without Jesus?
I tell you, He has been so active in all these circumstances, it is sweet being a part of the family of God. But I didn't have to tell you that, did I?

Here is Ethan and his friend Stephanie:

A few weeks ago, prom was his first "date"~ever :D (That is me smiling!). He is (to his mama's delight) a young man that treads cautiously. This beauty attends our youth group, and is from a different school. They are out for the first time tonight. With Kayla and Andrew (chaperones~ha ha!) After the kids having just gone through the purity and Biblical dating unit @ youth group, I am feeling pretty confident that they are well equipped to make wise choices. Dinner and that boy needs a job!!

That is my life lately...

Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Laying Aside the Old Self: Running with the New Self

Strip off your old self, which follows your former ways of living and ruins you as it follows the desires that deceive you. Become new in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, which is created to be like God, righteous and holy in the truth. Ephesians 4:22-24, MLB

I wanted to say, "Hey, I already thought of that!" but in my spirit, I knew that would be self-promotion, and I no longer live for myself. So I bit my tongue~again.

Why? Why do I still struggle with such selfish thoughts and desires?

I understood what Paul meant when he said, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:24,25 NASB This our daily reality. To "strip off the old self and put on the new self"

The old self is the selfish self. The new creation bows to God in reverence and submission. When we become spiritually born (born again) we no longer succumb to our sinful self. We have a new heart, and a new life. But we still have to contend with the old self. It doesn't die when we become born again. We have to choose to crucify it daily.

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

See? There it is...take up your cross. We have to crucify our old natural inclinations to focus on, to promote, or please ourself. Our new goal or focus it to promote and please God.

Our natural inclination in viewing ourselves tends to lean toward pride and arrogance such as Peter displayed when he told Jesus, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." Or we lean toward inferiority such as Moses did when he said, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent...I am slow in speech and tongue...please send someone else to do it." In either case, the focus is on "I" and not God.

Our new life in Christ enables us to be balanced with humility and confidence. However this doesn't just happen overnight. It is something we have to walk out and attend to, as we trust and obey the Lord. This does mean we keep our eyes/thoughts fixed on Him.

Freedom comes from being content with who God made us to be. Knowing how cherished we are, we can rest in His love for us. Ephesians 1:3-14 talks about our identity. We are truly blessed, chosen, predestined, included, adopted, marked with the Holy Spirit, forgiven, redeemed, and have been given revelation knowledge of God's will. In Him, we are His Beloved!

"He made you and therefore understands you, and knows how to manage you, and you must trust Him to do it." Hannah Whitall Smith

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Getting Rid of the Things That Hold You Back

Since this refreshing little talk reminded me of my last post (regarding my neighbor), I thought I would share! I didn't realize at first that this is the same Sheila that was the last speaker online a few weeks ago that had us ladies chatting so "nervously" (the comments were flying!) because she was speaking about...well, you know...ahem.