Tuesday, April 24, 2012

People Pleasing

Do you live to please people or to please God? I know I have to pray daily that the Lord would
help me to seek Him first, above all else.  I cannot please everyone all the time anyway! Why bother trying? I love this quote: "I know full well that the world will never see me the way God does, and I've stopped caring."  I can quote it...but do I really mean it?

I think about all of the horrific examples in the Bible of people who craved the approval of man over the approval of God. For instance, King Uzziah was very successful (2 Chronicles 26:5) as long as he sought the Lord. God gave him success because he desired God's will above all else. But then pride got in the way and he began to seek the approval of others.

King U wanted to be in control.  He wanted everyone to like him and he wanted the power that comes when people think you are "the man".  He went into the temple where God specifically said only the priests were allowed to burn incense and insisted on doing it himself.  He wanted to be in control of everything and have everyone respect him.  He craved man's approval over God's, burned the incense anyway and immediately broke out in leprosy. He died, alone, outside of the kingdom completely separated from the people.

Thank God that when I have fallen into this sin of "people pleasing" I haven't broken out in leprosy!  I would have been dead a long time ago.  But there are some serious consequences of pleasing people over God. Here are a just few of them:
  • Hypocrisy
  • Living in darkness and isolation
  • Self-reliance
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of Discernment
  • Horrific Decisions
  • Lack of Confidence
  • Lack of Trust
  • Easily Offended
  • Bitterness
  • Compromise
  • Doubt
  • Confusion
  • Neglecting what matters most
  • Health Problems
  • Addictions
  • Pride
  • Frustration
  • Discontentment
  • Self-Loathing
  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Idol Worship
  • Souls are LOST because the gospel is not preached out of fear of rejection
That is just a few of the consequences, but I know there are more, unfortunately. Did you know that when you try to please a person over God, seek their approval or you take their "opinion" of you above God's, that you are actually putting them in the place of God in your life? This is called "idolatry" and it breaks the first two commandments! Nobody should have that power over you in your life but God. Nobody. Eventually, you will disappoint others because of unrealistic expectations that they will put on you. Don't be a slave to this! You cannot win, it is impossible. Break free!

Today, let's all pray that God will give us freedom from this bondage.  If, in pleasing others, we are not pleasing to God, we must recognize this as sin.  Let's realize that God's thoughts of us are pure, lovely, admirable, true, and holy. He will never turn His back on us, He will not put conditions on His love for us and even when we are not faithful, He will still be faithful to us! (2 Timothy 2:13). God knows full well that we will never be able to live up to perfection and He will never put unrealistic expectations on us. He knows full well we cannot possibly do it...that's why He wants to do it Himself, through us. When we allow Him to be first in our lives, when we seek His approval instead of others' approval, we find peace.

Galatians 1:10
Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant.



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Respectful Confrontation


I received a personal note from a dear friend of mine earlier this week.  He's a passionate pastor whom I respect tremendously.  He was concerned about something I had done and was, in love, exhorting me.  I have a special relationship with him – he’s like a father to me – so I knew his message was important and I respect and trust his opinion.  I took it seriously.  I had a lump in my throat as I read his note and my heart was racing when I realized his level of concern.

For the past week or so I’d been talking about how excited I was about a book I'd read coming out as a motion picture.  I loved the book when I read it many years ago, and I was looking forward to seeing the movie.  His concern was that I was promoting a movie that did not receive very good reviews on many Christian sites, including Plugged In Movie Review.   He said my personal choice to watch the movie may cause someone to stumble because there are some things in the movie that are highly inappropriate. 

Although the movie, in my opinion, does not promote sinful behavior, it does show it because, I believe, the writer wants to show that no matter how far away you think you are from God, He will pursue you, He will forgive you and He will love you right where you are. But some people may not see it that way, and those are the folks who could be offended or misled.  So I took down my comments I posted about the movie and decided it wasn’t worth hurting my witness or misleading anyone in order to share a personal thought about a movie or book.  I would be horrified if anyone was led astray or confused because of something I recommended.

He was absolutely right.   I found myself in tears because I felt so blessed that a friend of mine would risk me being offended or taking this the wrong way because he knew I needed to know.  He was willing to go all out for me.  He was willing to walk away from our friendship for the sake of my witness, if needed.  Wow.  I called him and, in tears, thanked him for his bold, respectful confrontation. I was so into my own thoughts and personal feelings about the movie that I missed the bigger picture.  His words helped me to see a new perspective.  It's rare we find friends who are so willing to risk so much for our good.

What I would like to ask you is: Has anyone confronted you about sin in your life or a possible wrong choice?  If so, how did you respond?  Do you realize the deep love that person felt for you when they mustered up the courage to confront you, in love, about it? 

It’s so hard to be confronted about something that may be wrong in your life.  I’ve had anonymous critics who I don’t take seriously at all because I don’t know them personally nor do I have a relationship with them.  Those confrontations are usually cruel, judgmental and the person is not concerned about me or my witness, but more concerned about bashing me and being "right"- usually publicly.  But then there are those whom I know personally and respect.  They are the ones who do care.  The ones who love me deeply and help me see a new perspective.  They come to me personally, not publicly.  They don't want to "be right", they want to "make right".  How incredibly blessed I am that those people are bold enough to speak truth into my life.






Sunday, April 8, 2012

Seeing Purpose in our "Failures"

Failure is usually something we try to avoid.  Yet, there are some good reasons for failure - and reasons why things don't always work out the way we think they should.  First, though, we must understand that what the world sees as failure may not be "failure" at all.

Take the Apostle Paul, for example.  He had some huge "failures" in the world's eyes:
  • While he was spreading the Gospel about Jesus to the Gentiles, he found himself on a trip where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong! 
  • On the second half of his trip, he got very sick in Galatia.  
  • Then, even though he felt that he should go to Asia to share the Gospel, the door was shut and he couldn't go.  After this seeming failure, he and his team headed for the coast.  
  • Eventually he ended up being beaten.
  • He was imprisoned many times. 
  • He was falsely accused and rejected by many.
Yet, would any of us dare to say Paul's journey was a failure?  Didn't God use Paul in a mighty way, in spite of what would seem to be failure after failure, to spread the Gospel to millions and pen two-thirds of the words written in the New Testament?  We can learn something from Paul's example.
What if Paul had given up?  What if he said "Well, I've obviously failed.  God cannot use me now.  I should just get out of this ministry and out of God's way so He can use someone who can actually be used by God without failing Him all the time."  No...Paul didn't do that because he didn't focus on his failures!  He focused on his purpose - his reason for doing what he was doing.  He did not fail to keep his focus on Christ. 

What is your focus on this Resurrection Sunday?  What do you think defines you?  Your failures or your successes?  Neither of those define you - Jesus Christ alone does.  Remember....the world looked at Christ's death on the cross as an epic failure!  And yet, we now know...His death made room for His resurrection and that is what brought us the greatest victory of all - new life and salvation!

Just because things don't seem to be working out the way we think they should, that doesn't mean we are a failure in God's eyes.  What seems to be an epic fail to us can be a very good thing.  We can learn from our mistakes, move forward and continue to persevere in spite of whatever it is that seems to have taken us off the path we thought was the right way to go.

In the Bible, I've noticed that most of the time when God is telling us about failing, He talks about us failing to see, failing to hear, failing to trust.  Not failing in life.  Let's not miss the lesson God is teaching, showing and telling us through our times of difficulty!

Failure may feel like a death of sorts and in a weird way, it kind of is like a death.  But without death, there would never be a resurrection and new life! Whatever it is you think you've failed at - look at it from a different lens today.  Maybe it is an opportunity to grow, to learn, to grow stronger and to allow Him to refine you.  When something doesn't go the way you plan, it is not the end of who you are, but the beginning of who He wants you to be. 

What the world sees as a failure, God sees as an opportunity for us to begin a new thing.  And that new thing is always the better thing! When we are focused on our purpose instead of our failures, we see past the world's perspective right into the beauty of God's eternal perspective. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Good Impression

"Hey Mom, who's coming over?" Peyton's blue eyes were wide and expectant yesterday as she asked me this question.  I responded, "Why do you ask?  Nobody's coming over, honey."  She paused, looked around and said, "But you're cleaning!"

Ouch.

The house looked immaculate.  The aroma of the new Yankee candle I purchased was flowing through each room of the house like an inviting and aromatic embrace.  I had the new place mats out and the floor had been swept.  The kitchen looked like something from an HGTV makeover show.  I suppose I could see her point. (smile)

When we know people are coming over, we want to put our best foot forward.  Most days, our home is a bit more "lived in".  But yesterday, I just felt like cleaning because I wanted to make it nice for my family.  Nobody coming over.  No dinner parties.  Just family.  And how sad that my baby girl thought it was odd! What does that say about my housekeeping skills?

So, what would happen if someone came over, unannounced?  I have always thought that if that ever happened, I would just give a disclaimer: "If you are here to see a clean house, you must leave at once!  But if you're here to see me, come on in!"  I wonder if I would really do that, though?  What would people think if they saw my house in a "lived in" state?  I know the people who know me best have seen it and still love me anyway, but what about those who only know me from a distance?

Do you ever find yourself "cleaning up" for other people?  I'm not talking about your house now.  I'm talking about your life.  Maybe you feel the pressure of being someone you aren't - someone you really want to be - but you're just not being authentic and honest about who you are to certain people out of fear of being exposed or judged.  Oh, how exhausting this can be!  The truth is, everyone is imperfect, but some are much better at pretending than others.  If we were all just completely honest about our struggles, sins and imperfections, we'd be a lot less stressed out, wouldn't we?

Let's not be like the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25-26, the ones Jesus spoke to saying, "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy - full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too."

A pure heart is what God is seeking and it should be what we are seeking, too.  Once our hearts are cleaned and pure, the outside will become clean, too.  Instead of trying to make a good impression on the outside to others, let's focus on allowing God to clean us up on the inside so our pure hearts will be what people are drawn to.  Only then can we make a real, lasting impression - an impression that gives the glory to God alone.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I Need Your Help!

Last month, I entered a writing contest with Zondervan Publishing.  They were looking for devotional entries for their new Mom's Devotional Bible that is due out in April of 2013.  I submitted a devotional and then found out a few days ago that I was selected as one of the top 10 finalists in the contest!  I was thrilled, to say the least. :)

Here is where I can use your help:  They are looking for "public votes" on Facebook for this contest.  Now, I know Zondervan will not base their decision solely on public votes, but I'm sure that they will consider the support and encouragement from the public in their final decision, which will be made April 14.  Would you consider checking out the devotional and, if you like it, giving it a "thumbs up" vote?  You can find the devotional by clicking here.

If you are not on Facebook, you cannot vote, unfortunately, but if you have a Facebook account, you will be asked by Zondervan if they can access your info (basically, they just want to be able to know who is voting) and then you will be taken to the page.  You "like" the Zondervan fan page and then when you get to my devotional entry, which is called "Where Was His Mother?" you can vote by clicking the "thumbs up" (as opposed to the "thumbs down"...hahaha).  It will only take a couple of minutes!  There is also a place where you can leave a comment, if you desire. Also, if you want to share this with your friends on Facebook, that would be awesome, too!  The more votes the better. :)

Thanks so much for helping me out.  I appreciate your votes and comments so very much!  I will let you know as soon as I find out if my devotional was selected.

Blessings!

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