Jealousy vs the Chosen

Jealousy stems from not feeling chosen, and instead feeling rejected. Therefore your “feelings” of inadequacy manifest themselves in wanting what the other person seemingly has that makes them better than you. This is all perception, but to the rejected heart, it feels like reality. In truth, God’s choosing should supplant every feeling of inadequacy. The truth of God choosing us overwhelmingly implies that He believes we are worth His love and Presence in our lives. What God has chosen, and placed His mark of approval and desire on, can never be rejected, because the One who ultimately chose us will never reject us. Jealousy is dangerous. It can stem and branch off into so many sins and sinful desires. Jealousy makes you covet what is happening in others’ lives. It makes you want what God has not intended for you to have at that time, which is not to say that He never wants to give it to you, rather that it is not your time. Do your best to avoid it at all costs. Why be jealous over anyone, or anything, when God has picked you. God has chosen you. God has selected you. You are special. You are loved. Let your life be filled with God’s choosing, for you are His chosen. That is your identity; not the lie you believe when jealousy and rejection take root.

Advertisements

Imitation as Insincere Flattery

Today begins something new for me. After an encounter with God last night, I feel lead to read Ephesians 1, verse by verse; day by day. My identity has to be rebuilt, and the only way for this to happen is through the Word of God. I don’t know where it happened, or when…but I lost parts of myself by admiring and trying to emulate others in ministry. Slowly admiration can become jealousy and idolatry if not given in the right spirit, and thus here I am.

No more can I be bothered with trying to be like everyone else. I can’t wish i were someone else. I can’t be anyone else. To try doing this is a slap in the face of the One who made me perfectly in His image. It is impolite. The creation telling His Creator that his mold and composition is not good enough. Who knows better? Of course, the Creator!

I can only be me. To God, that is good enough…perfect even. He is teaching me to be okay with it as well, and He is teaching me that I am made up of things that have yet to even be discovered yet.

Let the journey begin.

A Return to Self

I think that I need to get back to blogging at least semi-regularly. Too much happens in my brain when I don’t do it like I should. I’ve been thinking here lately about the difference between my former self and my present self. When I preached my first sermon, the Pastor of the church that I was attending had just left. That left me to serve alongside two Associate Pastors. i think the problem with this was that I became arrogant. it was my home church, and I really felt like I could do no wrong. While preaching was still new to me, and I felt a deep awe that God would choose to use me as He did, I can also see clearly where pride began to work it’s way into me, because there was no one there to check me, and hold me in line for accountability purposes. When I felt God move us into my wife’s church, shortly after we got married, I was joined in ministry by several young men of the same age who were on fire for God. These guys mentored me in the ways of the Holy Spirit, and together, we felt like the Avengers- super-powered Saints in the pulpit with a license to speak what we felt the truth of the Gospel was, even though we had not experienced much of it ourselves. Pride.

Back in those days, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was headed for spiritual stardom. I saw a church in my future with thousands of members. I was going to be the next, young BIG thing in ministry. Sure to be an authoring, cd-releasing, fireball of a preacher and Pastor. That is where I was headed, and no one could convince me any differently. I even had nicknamed myself the “Rainbow Reverend”, because I wanted to have suits in every color of the rainbow, much like my then idol, T.D. Jakes. I was a TBN junkie back in those days, of course. Pride.

I was sure that I always had a word from the Lord, and I was unafraid to give it. Truth be told, most times God had really given me relevant words of wisdom and knowledge for people, but I can see so much arrogance in my life. I laugh at it now. I laugh at it now, because it is 10 years later and I am not the man that I thought I would be. I’m not doing what I thought I would be doing. In actuality, whereas 10 years ago I was a young, arrogant minister, now I look in the mirror and don’t know exactly what I see. Back then, i was sure of myself…even while I had no idea what areas of ministry God desired me to work in. Now, I’m as unsure of myself as I have ever been in ministry. I question everything. I question my calling. I question my purpose. I question if I’m right about anything that I do. I sometimes feel afraid to move when I know God is wanting me to move. I don’t take risks. Now, this is a constant over the course of my life as I have seen it. I was never taught that there were good risks. I was taught that risks weren’t worth it in general. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? The only thing I know for sure these days, most days, is that I love God more than ever, and just want to serve in His church however He allows me to.

What I know is that there needs to be a balance. I need to find elements of the young man, but temper him with the wisdom of experiences of the man who has battle scars to back up every word God allows me to speak, when the need arises. I know that I can’t be afraid. I know that I need to take risks. I know that I need to believe in myself again. God believes in me. I’m surrounded by people who believe in me, and there is something in me. I feel it there.

It is time for me to quit focusing on finding aspects of others to emulate, and instead find the parts of me that need to be cultivated and grown so that instead of being a carbon copy amalgamation of others, I can finally be comfortable being the individual me. I am convinced that this is where God is taking me- down a painful road of self discovery again. God is telling me that it is an insult for me to think so lowly of someone He thought so highly enough of to create and die for.

Pride. Arrogance. Brokenness. Uncertainty. Self-doubt. Identity Crises. Rebirth?

I understand that it is not popular for those in ministry to be this transparent, but I assure you that you can’t question me anymore that I already question myself. All I can be is who I am, and hope that others learn from me how not to repeat my mistakes and life experiences. Be better, and then some. I know I plan on being better. The best, ever.

Evolution of Praise

First off, allow me to say that however one chooses to praise God is not for me to judge. I love watching all kinds of praisers. It’s all beautiful to me. This post, however, is just a look at my own evolution as a praiser and lover of God, because the way that I give myself to Him now is far different from where I used to be.

I grew up in a Missionary baptist church. I loved it for what it was. I accepted salvation there. I was baptized there. I preached my first sermon there. That church gave me my formative development as a person and as a Christian. I still consider that my genesis. I heard many types of preachers there. There were the fiery ones, the expositive ones, the quietly effective ones, etc. We sang hymns, and had a church choir that actually had SATB voices, with people who knew the technical aspects of beautiful music. SO we praised God with polish and refinement. There was no lifting of hands, merely a quiet reverence for God.

This was fine with me, because at that point in my life, I was not fully committed to God, and so I figured that singing my best was the best way that I could give God praise. Going to churches with “free praisers” scared me. I thought that “those” people were absolutely out of their minds. My friends and I would make fun of people who danced and lifted their hands. We were bougie. “Look at that woman shouting!” “Look at that old man doing that jig!” We were ignorant. We barely knew God. We had no knowledge of the Holy Spirit. We served God out of a duty to the church.

When I got married, I moved over to my wife’s church. We would visit there frequently while we were engaged, and this church was in the midst of a powerful revival in the Holy Spirit. Even while I didn’t understand what was happening around me, I knew that even the air was different. The music was catchy, with a great beat and some great vocals. The singing, while not always pretty and refined, was so sincere. The people clapped and sang at the top of their lungs. This was a raw atmosphere. People danced and passed out. The Pastor of the church walked on the pews when he got “happy” during service. Sometimes, (EGAD), he didn’t even preach and the people just sat moaned for God. What was this? It wasn’t until I joined the church and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit that I really began to understand what praise was. Even then, I praised God out of my emotion. I would dance and do a high step. I would clap and shout. Deep inside of me though, something was missing. I knew it, but I so enjoyed praising in that atmosphere. Man, just thinking about it makes me smile.

When my wife and I moved to the church we currently reside in, something strange happened. Over the last 7 years, I have received training in the knowledge of who God is, why He is so worthy of my highest praise, and how to let go. I’ve spent time in the word with God. I have encountered a God who had been a distant relative before, but has not become my closest friend. I have experience God in ways that I never would have imagined, and He has completely shattered everything that I thought that I knew about Him time after time after time. With each “rediscovery”, I have felt my level of exuberance in praise increase. I have gone from standing completely still and lifting my hands, to jumping up and down like a wild man, crying out so loudly that I can barely sing, dancing on stage. I have gone from being reserved and wondering what everyone else was doing, to closing my eyes and becoming “undignified” in the presence of my God.

One of my favorite stories about David is when the Ark of the Covenant came back. The Bible talks about how David took off his clothes and dances in his skivvies in front of all of his subjects and the people of Israel. When his wife questioned his sanity, he proudly declared that he would become even more undignified, because God’s Presence returning was worth every celebration…and more. Now, David was a king. He went hard for God in front of everyone without a single ounce of embarrassment. He knew that he was celebrating for an audience of One.

And this is where I am right now. The God that I now know is simply too good for me to sit still. I know Him too well now to just give Him a cursory nod and keep on moving. I choose to exhaust my limbs and move my body, I choose to offer up my voice with all of it’s imperfections and cracks. I choose to not let singing the wrong notes bother me. I choose rather, to focus on Him, knowing that He inhabits my praise, and while it is not perfect, it is all for Him, and Him alone.

Simply put, as I’be grown in Him, I’ve grown in my willingness to give Him my all in praise. I do know this, though. However you choose to praise God is a praise that God accepts willingly from you. You don’t have to imitate anyone else. All He wants is a praise that comes from your heart, and however that looks for you, if your heart is engaged, God is pleased.

Have a great evening! Be blessed, peeps.

Follow the Leader

It’s been hard for me to ever think of myself as a leader. I have never thought that I had the “it” factor that great leaders possessed. I don’t have what I consider to be an electric personality. I’m not an extrovert, preferably a wallflower rather than the life of the party. It’s not that no one ever told me that I could never be a leader. In reality, I’ve been told all of my life that I had the potential to be a great leader. Others saw it in me, but I just could not see it in myself. Part of the reason was that I was comparing what I saw in others to what I did not see in myself. It seems that God has really been deconstructing my own self image here lately. A good friend of mine, Dan Clark, once told me during a breakfast meeting that I should embrace the things about myself that I did not do well. At that point, I didn’t really grasp the power of what he was saying. I figured that because I didn’t do the things well that I saw other great leaders do well, I could never be a leader; not even considering becoming an effective Pastor. Our series in church has been dealing with breaking bad habits and cycles in our lives, and the last 4 weeks have dealt especially with breaking the spirits of comparison and poor mental workings. As a result of really allowing these things to sink in, plus having some real eye opening time at our staff meeting over this weekend, I am beginning to see the uniqueness in the way God has created me to lead. It doesn’t look like my Pastor in many ways, any Pastor that I’ve ever sat under. It doesn’t look like our Youth Pastors, or anyone that I see on television. I’m me, and in the past I’ve spent so much time ripping myself for NOT being the people whose lives I looked up to and admired. However, instead of focusing so much on my weaknesses and deficiencies, I am really beginning to see how my strengths can be used by God to be an effective leader.

I have always wanted to be a leader, but the issue has not been with what I was created to be, but rather how I saw who God has created me to be. In the light of respecting and esteeming his creative work in constructing me, I think that I am beginning to understand myself in the way God intended for me to be. Quirks and all, I think I’m actually an ok guy, and I’m growing to be an effective leader as well.

Breaking the spirit of Comparison

John 21:18- verily I tell you, when you were younger you dresed yourself and went where you wanted, but when you are old, someone will dress you and lead you where you don’t want to go. Jesus said thia to indicate the kind of death by which Peter glorify God. Then he said to him “Follow Me”. Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved was following him. When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, whats it to you?”

Peter was comparing his death to John’s. 
1. The Curse of Comparison
A. Produces inferiority or superiority.
B. Produces anger toward God
C. Opens the door to Satan

James 3:14-16- but if you have bitter envy and self seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, and demonic.

Comparing yourself opens the door for Satan to take away the joy of God, which is our strength.

2. The Causes of Comparisons
A. Lack of acceptance of who God made me to be.
1 Cor. 12:24-25- while our presentable parts need no specjal treatment. But God has put the bidy together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

Stop wanting everyone else’s gift. Seek God for your own gift and allow God to impact the Kingdom by you being you.

B. We don’t understand who God has called us to be.
2 Cor.10:12- we don’t dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure thenselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

Those who compare themselves to others are not wise.

C. Covetousness-this was the original sin.  It shows ingratitude for what God has given you.
Colossians 3:15- therefore put to death the members which are on the earth: fornication,  uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness,  which is idolatry.

*Could it be that you being upset when God blesses someone else,  is stopping God from blessing you?

*The MATURE Christian ahould be the first one excited when God blesses someone else.

3. The Cure for Comparison- Romans 1:21
A. Glorify God- quit magnifying the blessing and GLORIFY the BLESSOR
B. Be Thankful-walk in an attitude of grace
C. Renew my mind

“Helping” the Helper?

Something interesting happened to me last night. I was journaling, just free writing about things that were weighing on my mind. Something else had come up, and in my venting, I wrote about how useless I felt, because I was having to add more to the “prayer pile” of things that we absolutely need to happen in our lives. Thinking about it now, it’s rather laughable. But, I was writing these things down, and really, in my emotions I really felt helpless…and I felt like there was something wrong with me for not being able to help God with the things that we need. I’m a helper. It’s my nature, but as it translates to my relationship with God, my journaling allowed me to see in the past, I’ve really tried to help God be God as it relates to the things that happen in my life…often to dire results. See, what I understand is that when we say we are helping God, we are really taking whatever burden we had released to Him, back onto ourselves. In a sense, we are telling God that we are more adept at handling the issues in our lives than He is, and as I think about the mounting list of things that we are really believing God for, if I’m honest, there is nothing that i can do about any of those things. Thus the helpless feeling.

Here’s the kicker…..there is something about realizing that God is the only one who can fix a situation, or answer a desperate prayer, that puts you right in the sweet spot of His will. The only help that God requires of us is to have faith, and be obedient when He tells us what to do. There is nothing we can do to help God move further along, faster, in His will for our lives. This truth is something that we tout quite often, and quote in our churches, but is it really something that we constantly act upon? I don’t. It’s hard. I see our needs. I know how the odds are stacked up against us. I know how many attacks have come our way since we made the conscious choice to trust God for the things that are deep in our hearts.  You see your needs, and no doubt you have ideas of how those things can be fixed. In truth, though, would your ideas really fix the entire situation or only muddle things for your future?

Our prayer pile is HUGE. It is GINORMOUS! It is so large that just looking up at it makes me shake, but the beautiful thing about that bountiful mountain of needs is that we have to look UP. It is forcing us to look past it’s peaks into the Heavens where my Abba resides and stands ready to move in His timing according to His process and will. He knows what we need, and no matter how big and important these things are to us, they are infintismally small and easily doable for Him. We just have to wait. And believe.

 

And stop trying to “help”.