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What Does It Mean That The Old Man Is Dead?


It’s Monday Grace!

Whatever happened to the old you? You know, the person you were before you met Jesus?

Some teachers would have you believe that you are still the same person, that you still need to repent for those things you did before you came to Christ, and that you are still identified by those sins. In other words, you might have become a Christian, but you are still the same as you were before.

Other teachers would have you think that you are some kind of hybrid, a schizophrenic dual personality. There is the new you in Christ, they say, but there is also the old you in sin. Each moment you have to choose which you will be. The successful Christian life is one where the person chooses to be the new self most often.

Now, those two ideas present some very practical problems. In the first scenario, becoming a Christian has really done nothing for you. You are still in your sins, still afraid and ashamed, and still under bondage. You might go to Heaven when you die, maybe. There is no real hope and no freedom for those who are still in the old person.

And, to be fair, the world and the devil, even our own flesh, constantly tells us that nothing has changed. When we find ourselves doing the things we used to do, we condemn ourselves and the evil one accuses us and the world points to our sin and offers testimony against Jesus. There are certainly days in the new life when we don’t feel like much has changed.

Yet, we want to believe that something has changed, in fact that everything has changed. So, we become open to the second teaching, that the old self and the new self live side-by-side and battle every minute of every day for control. That also feels sort of right, doesn’t it? We do have some good times when we do the right things. But the old way seems to be there too.

Many believers live this kind of broken and conflicted life. They spend their days fighting against themselves and have no confidence of success. If they win, they feel good, but they also believe they might fail next time. After all, they think they are two equal and opposite people. The old and the new.

So, believers continue to live in fear and shame. Never confident in their relationship with the Lord. Never sure of eternal life. Never really at peace. The yoke they carry is neither light nor easy.

The Scriptures, on the other hand, are quite clear that the old man is dead! There are three specific references to the “old man,” the person you were before Jesus.

…knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:6

…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts Ephesians 4:22

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, Colossians 3:9

In the first reference, the old man died by crucifixion with Jesus. He/she was not raised with Jesus. The old person died. In the second, the old man is becoming “corrupt,” which means decaying. It is so dead that it is beginning to stink. In the third, we are told that the old man has been “put off,” no longer attached to us in any way. We have been separated from what we were.

I think that is pretty clear. We are no longer that old person. What we were is not what we are. Even if we still do some of the same things, even if we remember those things too clearly, even if others accuse us of still being the same, we have been made new in Jesus. We are not what we were.

So, the message of grace is not for us to get better or work harder or try to make up for what we did before Jesus. The message of grace is for us to live according to the Spirit who is guiding us into who we are. Our hearts and minds are being transformed day by day. The flesh, which I have written about before, wants to pull us back to what is familiar, but the Spirit pushes us into the truth of who we have become in Christ.

The good news for the believer is that the old is truly gone. That person died on the cross. You and I are new creations, and we no longer are guilty and shamed by the past that is separated from us. Nor are we bound to the sins which once controlled us. We are to live as free sons and daughters of the King of kings. We are good and righteous and strong because of Jesus. His life is the new life that flows in us, and we are never going to be separated from Him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Never Join Anything

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Okay, so the title of this post might be a little overstated. But I don’t mean simply to be careful about the groups you join. I mean never join yourself to anything. Never connect your life to an organization or cause or ideology. Never add an association to your identity.

You see, there is an idea (pushed by controllers and users) that when you join their group you submit yourself to their leadership and authority. For example, when you join some churches, you are supposed to live like they tell you to live and serve like they tell you to serve. If you don’t, you will be punished or separated from the group.

After every election you will hear someone say something like this: “I didn’t want to vote for that candidate, but I felt I had to since I am a member of his/her party.” Joining a certain political party or a certain movement seems to demand a loyalty, a service, that binds a person to performing or even believing a certain way. Few organizations willingly embrace those who disagree with the “company line.” Walk a different path from others who have joined the organization and you will usually find yourself criticized and under some kind of threat.

Your loyalty is very important to narcissists and other abusers. You are expected to release your will, your identity, into their hands. They will tell you what to do, how much money to give, and anything else they can get by with. And, interestingly, most people obey simply because they “joined.”

I realize that joining things is a part of life in this world. You are expected to join a church you attend regularly. You may be required to join a union. You will be pressured to join clubs and organizations of many kinds. It is challenging to live in society without joining something.

So, if you have to join something, be sure you consider your connection an “association.” In other words, you are choosing to associate with a certain group or cause, but you are not joining your identity to them. You should not identify yourself with their label, whether it is a political party, a church, or a civic organization. The moment you do, you become burdened with their weaknesses and compromises. You also lose a little of yourself in the label.

Sadly, church labels and organizations are just as much a part of this caution as are political parties. Groups of all kinds tend to speak for their membership. All xx’s believe this. All yy’s vote this way. All zz’s do these things.

But you are not of this world, not limited by any association. The only joining that matters is your relationship with Jesus and your connections to the special people He leads you to in life. Join with Jesus. Join with your spouse and children. But that’s about it.

Some readers might find this hard. Others will find this liberating. My point is that you are a person, unique in thought and heart. You cannot be defined by an organization’s goals or a church’s doctrines. You must always be free to follow the Lord who loves you. An organization’s label does not add to who you are, and the risk of guilt by association may communicate to others things that are not true of you.

The day will come when all associations in this world will end. Some of us have experienced some painful separations already in our lives. Loyalties, investment, commitment—sometimes these words had little meaning to the groups to which we were joined. When the trouble came, the group simply added to our pain. All our joining meant was that it was harder to go a different way.

But our joining with Jesus will never end, and in Him we are joined to each other. The day is coming when we will see and enjoy the beauty of all that.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

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What Does It Mean That The Flesh Still Has Influence?

It’s Monday Grace!

So, okay, I believe in Jesus and trust Him for my salvation. I want to please Him with my life. I want everything He wants for me, and I want to avoid the things He warns me against. I really do.

But why is it that I fail so often? Why do I get angry or lie or cheat or do things I know I shouldn’t do? Why do I forget to pray, neglect my Bible, and walk through so many of my days unaware of His presence? And where do all these awful thoughts come from?

Well, here’s the problem we all face. We are saved, completely, with nothing more to do to become more saved. Those who look to Jesus find Him and receive the life He gives them. He is our life. He will carry us through death to be with Him forever. But here and now, in this life, we still remember the old ways. In fact, the old ways are still our default mode.

As we grew up, we learned a system of living, a way of life that worked more or less. It became habitual, ingrained. We see life in categories and patterns because that’s how we learned to cope with the craziness and fear. And we learned some bad things and some dumb things.

When you see two people laughing at something and they quit just as you come up to them, do you wonder if they were talking about you? Whether they were or not, the thought goes through your mind because you have learned to fear it. Do you flinch when someone raises their hand quickly to you? Perhaps you still have a response that came from times when you were hit. These things get deep into our subconscious minds.

In the same way, anger pops up when we feel threatened or cheated or accused because we feel we have to defend ourselves. That was what we learned before we knew Jesus. Fear comes when we face uncertain circumstances because we remember and anticipate pain and suffering. Even though we believe with our conscious minds that Jesus is enough for us and His is the only opinion that matters, we still react by default according to what we learned before we knew Him.

This is what the Bible calls the flesh and what Paul tells us not to walk in. We are to walk in the Spirit, to think according to the Spirit, because we no longer have to be controlled by our flesh. The world system and the coping mechanisms we learned no longer have power over us. But our flesh, our memory and habit patterns, usually has to be convinced.

So, lust and anger and fear and worry and bitterness and all the negative emotions that move us to wrong thoughts and actions still have influence in our lives because of this flesh in which we live. One day we will be rid of it forever. In the meantime, we have to remind ourselves of who and Whose we are.

Does Jesus know about this? Of course, He does! He knows that you and I fail. He knows about our fears and worries and temptations. He loves us and walks with us through all of them. He calls us to give more and more to Him so that we don’t have to be under such destructive and confusing influence, but He also understands why we fail so often.

Never forget that the goal of the Christian life is not perfection, not perfect thinking or behavior. Those things will be ours forever when the flesh is left behind. No, the goal of the Christian life is to be with Jesus. The more we live in and enjoy His presence, the more we will find the influence of the flesh slipping away. Then we will live and walk in the Spirit.

Your failure does not separate you from the Lord who loves you. It only serves as a reminder that you should draw nearer to Him and His love. He is always looking for that “closer walk” with you.

Galatians 5:16-17
16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

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Keep Your Secrets

It’s Narcissist Friday!

I have noted in past posts that narcissists are predators. I suppose all abusers are to some extent, but narcissists are often patient, sensitive, and generous—in the beginning. They groom their victims with nice words and kind actions until they are confident that the hook is set securely. Then, as many have described, everything changes.

One of the most common characteristics of the lover narcissist is the ability to listen. They will listen to your stories, your complaints, your memories, and your confessions. Someone once described their narcissist as empathic, the very quality narcissists lack, but I said it wasn’t empathy that moved him to listen so patiently, it was investment. It was a means to an end. Once enough information was gathered, it would be used as a controlling weapon.

At the same time, there is something in the hearts of hurting and vulnerable people that wants to be heard. Perhaps we actually feel that confession is “good for the soul.” Perhaps we so desperately want someone who will accept us. Perhaps we want to tell all our dirty secrets just to test the relationship. Maybe there are several reasons. Hurting people often want to tell their secrets.

But you should keep your secrets. You don’t have to tell everything up front. Be very careful of the person who listens and asks for more. In fact, you should feel free to hold things back. Many of your secrets are simply between you and the Lord. Keep them that way.

You will have to listen to the Lord on this. There are things a spouse should know that others don’t need to know. At the same time, I don’t think even a spouse needs to know everything. You share life with your spouse, but you don’t depend on your spouse for life. What I mean is that you have a right to secret thoughts and memories.

Many will disagree with me on this, but I would remind you that you are a person with a unique and intimate relationship with the Lord. He knows all your secrets, and He loves you. He has never wavered in His love for you because His love has never been contingent on expectations or images. Everyone else in your life has their own desires for what they want you to be. Everyone else is compromised by their own flesh and feelings.

You only see life through your eyes. You are the only one who has lived your life. You are the only one who thinks your thoughts. So don’t be afraid to keep some things to yourself.

Of course, you understand that some secrets can slip out at the wrong time to hurt you or others. Those you may have to handle differently. But choose. Pray for guidance and make the choice. And you may not have to tell more than one person.

Too often, friends are terrible confidantes. They blurt out your secrets or use them to shame and control you. And, sadly, you may not know which of them will do it. So, be careful. And don’t be ashamed to hold things back. The ones who most think they have a right to the details of your life may be the ones you shouldn’t tell. The more they ask or push, the more you should keep your mouth shut. And if a friend confides in you, be sure that you don’t share their secrets with others. Don’t be the one who hurts or uses a friend.

The only One who matters already knows. And He loves you. So tell Him everything, all your secret disappointments and expectations and failures. It may help a lot to speak of these things, but do it in the privacy of your own relationship with Jesus.

A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter. Proverbs 11:13

Debate your case with your neighbor, And do not disclose the secret to another; Proverbs 25:9

I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Psalm 32:5

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What Does It Mean That I Am In Christ?

It’s Monday Grace!

There are concepts that are hard for the mind to understand but bring joy to the heart.  I am increasingly convinced that the most important things of the Christian faith are things of the heart.  The Scriptures speak of certain things being “spiritually discerned.”  Those whose only connection to the faith is the doctrine and lifestyle they have learned miss the deeper and most meaningful joys.

The reason of the mind is primarily a thing of this world.  We pull from past experiences and seek to categorize life in ways that are helpful to us.  But the joys of our faith are not of this world.  They come from the heart of God and are revealed to our hearts.  Instead of shunning our emotions, our feelings, we should use them to allow us to see the truth about ourselves and our Lord.

This world is not our home.  How do we know that?  Because Jesus said this world was and is not His home.  We are in Him.  Our life is inseparably connected with His.  He is in us, and we are in Him.  If this world is not Jesus’ home, then it cannot be ours.   His kingdom is not of this world, He says, and we are certainly of His kingdom. 

Home is in Jesus.  Wherever He is, that’s home.  That’s one thing that is meant when we say that we are in Christ.  In Him, we are home.  There is something that connects us to Him, something greater than the things that connect us to anything or anyone else.  When the end of this life comes, we can be at peace leaving it all behind.  Even those we love, we leave, hoping and trusting that they will be with us where we go.  Home is in Him.

In Christ, we are safe.  Nothing will separate us from Him because nothing is strong enough to break that bond.  As we trust in His work, His initiative, His power, we can be at peace.  Nothing can touch us. 

In Christ we are who we are supposed to be.  We don’t fully understand this now, because the flesh is still fighting to be supreme.  The day will come, however, when the flesh will be washed away and we will be free and full in Christ.  In Christ, our identity is affirmed and secure.

When Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Heaven, He is referring to Himself.  That kingdom is in Him.  He calls us to live forever in Him.  We are surrounded, overwhelmed, with His presence.  Again, the day will come when we will understand this.  Today we see dimly, occasionally. 

I remember a story I heard many years ago of a woman who was dying.  As she looked into Heaven, she said, “The air is full of music!”  In a sense, I think that describes how it will be when we finally and forever see ourselves in Jesus.  He will be all around us.  We will know His presence intimately and securely. 

Peace and joy and love.  These are the things we find in Christ.  Things of the heart.  Grace, if you will, for the heart. 

1 Corinthians 1:30
30  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption–

2 Corinthians 5:17
17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

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Have Fun!

It’s Narcissist Friday!

The old Westminster Catechism asked what the “chief end of man” was. The answer, which was memorized and apparently forgotten by so many, was: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

Sometimes people get so involved in trying to glorify God that they forget to enjoy Him. In truth, the two cannot be separated. We can’t glorify God unless we enjoy Him. The rules and standards that so many try to live by will never glorify God until we relax and remember that He loves us and wants us to enjoy our relationship with Him.

One thing I have noticed among those who have been abused and manipulated by narcissists and other controllers is the lack of joy. The abusers make life so serious, almost all the time. I suppose life is that serious for them. They cannot find joy and peace, so they don’t want others to have those wonderful things. They are quite willing to make your life miserable in the hope of finding some kind of pleasure for themselves.

But you can’t let them do that. You can look to the Lord who loves you and laugh. His creation is meant to be enjoyed. You were made to laugh. Someone once said that they often pictured Jesus laughing. I think they are right.

No matter how serious the mission, how painful the suffering, how sad the loss—there is a place for fun. Some people will think it is inappropriate. They will want you to be serious. Especially in difficult times, they will want you to exhibit the costly emotions. Sadness, anger, grief, worry, fear—these are acceptable. But not fun, not laughter.

And yet, many people have faced death with a smile on their faces. Some have found memories of loved ones to be funny, even as they grieve their loss. Some have overcome the pain of their suffering by laughing at themselves and life.

When my father faced the final stages of the dementia that would take his life, he said some funny things. It was a time of great loss for me. I watched him struggle as he lost his grip on reality. But, when I think of those days, I remember the funny things he said, and it doesn’t hurt quite so much.

The truth is that life just isn’t that serious. If you understand the truth of the gospel, you know that your salvation is secure, won by Jesus on the cross and given to you as a gift. You don’t have to strive to measure up. You can look around and see the joyful, even funny, things in life.

Adults who have lost their sense of fun usually take it from their children as well. Instead, we should watch how the little ones can enjoy such simple things with the light hearts of innocence. And we can feel that innocence in ourselves because of the gift Jesus has given to us. Life is not that serious!

As our children left the house for whatever reasons, we often said, “Have fun!” Sometimes that surprised them because they were not thinking of the possibility of fun in relation to what they were going to do. But we wanted to give them the release of a burden. Whatever they were going to do, they could find some way to have pleasure. They might have to look a little, given the situation, but the joy will be there for them to find.

I grieve when I see someone whose days are filled with the struggle of a narcissistic or abusive relationship. The stress never seems to let up. Always on edge, always worrying, always striving. These people forget the wonderful freedom and strength that a good laugh can bring.

Resolve today to laugh more. Don’t let your laughter be at the expense of others, of course. Be kind and find ways to help them laugh. One of the great pleasures in life is helping another person find the joy of laughter. A kind word, noting something to enjoy, can change a whole day for someone.


A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is! Proverbs 15:23

Life just isn’t that serious!

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What does it mean that Christ is in me?

It’s Monday Grace!

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

The deepest riches of the Christian life are in the fact that Jesus is in us. It is our hope of glory, according to Paul. But what does it mean that Christ is in me?

I suppose the fact that this is a mystery should caution us. It means a lot more than we can know, at least at this time. That Jesus is in me by grace through faith is the whole gospel message, the root or the foundation upon which the rest is built. To fully unpack the meaning of the phrase would take many books, I suspect. Even then, we can only understand with earthly minds.

But we know two things that help us understand. At least they allow us to use the phrase with some basic understanding.

First, we know that we died with Jesus on the cross and rose with Him in new life. The life in us now is His life. He gave His life for us and to us. We share in His nature. The depth of this is beyond my ability to explain, but I can say that we are only truly alive because of Jesus. And because of Jesus, we will always be alive. Eternal life is His life.

Second, because the life in us is His life, we will forever be connected to Him. He is truly with us always. We cannot be separated from Jesus by any force or authority or will. This is far beyond the “once saved always saved” debate. This comes out of the simple fact that Jesus is eternal and His life in us is eternal. If we were to be separated from Him, which Paul believed was impossible, we would cease to exist. The old life is gone. All we have is our new life in Christ.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

I suppose we know one more thing, something even more mysterious. We know that we have been filled with the Holy Spirit, baptized miraculously into Him so that He is always present with us. It is not possible to separate Jesus from the Holy Spirit by any argument or explanation because the Spirit of God is God, and Jesus is God. And the Spirit of God is active in our daily lives.

As I said, there is much mystery here. But the good news, the most practical news for the believer, is that Jesus walks with us day by day, moment by moment. There is no situation, no time, when He is not fully present with us. Nor will anything be able to separate us from Him.

Jesus is alive in us! His grace is worked out in and through and for us. We will always be with Him.

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Avoid Comparisons

It’s Narcissist Friday!

(A reminder: I am writing these posts as messages for my grandchildren. I would want them to understand how narcissists and others deceive and entrap people. My prayer is that they would be secure enough in their relationship with the Lord and in who He has made them to be that these abusers would find no opportunity to damage their hearts. And, of course, that’s my prayer for anyone who reads this.)

One of the best ways to make yourself feel bad is to enter into comparisons. You win when you realize you don’t have to.

God made us all different. We are different sizes and shapes. We have different ways of thinking. We have different skill sets and different knowledge. We have lived different backgrounds, and life has affected us differently. We respond to pain and pleasure differently.

And because we are different, we can’t begin to compare with each other.

Listen: you always lose when you compare yourself with others. Even when you think you come out ahead in the measurements, you still lose because you open yourself to the whole game of comparisons. As soon as you find someone you think is less than you, you will also find someone who is more than you. No one wins the game.

Well, no one except narcissists and other abusers. When you begin to feel bad about yourself, they swoop in with their flattery and lies to bind you to them. You love to hear them speak nice things about you. You wish they would say more. You already feel bad about yourself, so they know just what to say. Then they also know how to hurt you. And they will.

When you are content with yourself, you have no need and no interest in comparing with others. Comparisons reveal a weakness in you. When you look at someone else and feel less (or more), you reduce who you are to that particular comparison. You also reduce the other person to that point of comparison. But you are so much more!

If God says that you are the “pearl of great price,” and He does, then you are already beyond comparison. Be content in His estimation of you. You don’t have to be more to satisfy Him.

It is interesting that He ties contentment to His presence. Don’t look at what others have or how they look or what they can do, be content in the blessings you have to enjoy, because Jesus is with you every moment of every day. Let His presence be enough to bring you joy. Give Him thanks for your life right now.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Beware of any system, spiritual or otherwise, that calls you to get ahead by comparing yourself with others. Reject that system outright. You don’t need to hurt yourself or others to get ahead. You cannot become more spiritual by putting others down, nor are you less spiritual when they put you down.

When you face a comparison, just smile and give thanks for the love of Jesus. Truly, in Him you have it all.

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What Does It Mean To Live Under Grace?

It’s Monday Grace!

Years ago I gave several friends a book that explained the teaching of grace. One man read the book, or at least part of it, and gave it back to me. He said, “This book is dangerous.” I knew he was right.

You see, for those who live under the law, either because they have not come to Jesus or because they have never understood what Jesus died to give them, the idea of grace is dangerous. Never mind that it is taught throughout the Bible, even in the Old Testament. Never mind that it encapsulates the Christian faith in one word. Never mind that it is the foundational will of God for His people. Grace is dangerous to anyone who believes they have to perform well in order to please God and be saved.

If you convince someone that he no longer has to work hard to measure up to certain standards in order to make God love him, he might stop working hard. If you tell her that she no longer has to worry about her salvation, she might stop worrying and relax. People who believe they are under grace simply because they have come to Jesus and He loves them might just stop doing the things that move them closer to what the world and the church expect Christians to do.

For example, someone who believes they are under grace, rather than under law, might not read his Bible through every year, like a good Christian should. She might not tithe, like the church says you should. They might break the rules of good Christian behavior. Who knows, they might even begin to associate with the wrong people. They might think that sinners can be saved without changing their lives first. They might eat and drink with sinners, laugh with common people, and serve those who don’t deserve the kindness of good people.

Who knows what might happen if a person leaves the fear and anxiety of the law behind? Well, Jesus knows! He knows that those who are under grace desire, more than anything else, to follow Him. He knows that they want Him to lead them personally, individually. He knows that He can speak into their hearts and they will listen.

Living under grace means freedom and peace. It means no longer striving to measure up, to perform well enough. It means resting in the love of Jesus.

And resting is something those under the law can never understand. They can never rest. They can never do enough to feel peace and assurance. How much is enough when you have to save yourself or please God on your own? It is never enough, and it never satisfies.

We who are under grace rest in our assurance of salvation not because we are suddenly good enough or have performed enough. We rest because we submit our efforts to Jesus. He is the One who did enough. He is the One who called us because He loved us. He did what was necessary for us to be saved. And He gave it to us as a gift. When we received that gift and understood what it meant, we could relax and enjoy a relationship with Him.

And that relationship is not passive. Following Jesus does not lead us astray. We will live better lives than anyone under the law if we follow Jesus. But following Him does not mean keeping some list of rules or striving for certain standards. It means listening to Him, believing that He is real and active in our lives. It means doing what He leads us to do.

Under grace, we become alive in Jesus. We walk through this world as strangers who no longer have to prove ourselves or convince anyone of anything. We know this world is not our home, and the more this world moves away from Jesus, the more we find our peace and strength in our relationship with Him. We do not have to be afraid.

Those who are believers but continue to strive under the law are not really that different from the people of the world who try to be good enough for Heaven. They share the same frustrations, the same fears, and eventually the same discouragement. How many in the church today have given up on Jesus? They have no freedom or peace, but they no longer try. They live in quiet despair with little hope. If you ask a person of the world if he is going to Heaven, he might say he hopes so or he does not believe in Heaven. If you ask many church goers the same question, you might get the same answers.

But those who are under grace, walking through life in the love and presence of Jesus, we have assurance because we trust in Him, rather than ourselves. We don’t worry about doing enough, and we don’t lose our faith.

All because grace is a real relationship with a real Person who loves us.

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You Are Beautiful!

It’s Narcissist Friday!

13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.
Psalm 139:13-18

From the beginning, you were beautiful. A unique creation of the loving God. His plans for you have always been good. It is not arrogant or improper to think of yourself the way God thinks of you. David wrote these words fully knowing sin’s destructive influence on his mind and body. Still, he believed that he was “fearfully and wonderfully made.” You must know this truth as well.

Somehow the lie came to tell you that you were not beautiful. It usually comes two ways. First, it comes from the inner sense that something is wrong. The whole world feels this. Things are not good, not right. That which was beautiful is no longer. So the world seeks to mold every individual to a shape that reflects that brokenness. But then the church has come to affirm the world’s perspective. Because of sin, the church says, nothing is beautiful. Even little babies are born in corruption and ugliness, according to some. There is no innocence, no loveliness, no beauty.

That set up a dissonance in you. To think of yourself as less than beautiful was not right. God loves you, and says you are beautiful in His eyes. But to think of yourself as beautiful seemed wrong. Sin has damaged you, scarred or deformed you, so that you are ugly. How can you accept the Lord’s view of you when the world’s view is so contrary? Especially when the church sides with the world?

Then the liar comes. The abuser tells you enticing things because they are things you want desperately to hear. You open yourself to his control because of that dissonance between what you think of yourself and what he says. But then he changes his words and destroys you little by little as he affirms and builds on what you have believed, the lie. He knows that you do not believe you are beautiful, but he also knows the pain of that thought in your heart.

The only way to stand strong against the liar and abuser is to look to the Lord’s love. He sees in you that “pearl of great price” He bought. He desires you and wants you with Him forever. Just as you are.

Just as I am? The old song used at so many evangelistic crusades called people to Jesus without asking them to try to fix themselves first. Why? Not because there was nothing to fix. Not because sin had no effect. But in spite of all that. Within you, no matter what you look like or feel like, is the image of the living and loving God. You are that beautiful one His heart loves.

So, thank Him for your beauty. I know that sounds strange, even somehow wrong. It will, but it is not wrong. It is right, and you stand against the world and the liar when you proclaim the beauty God sees in you. Every day, affirm the truth God says about you. There is no arrogance, no boasting, no pride, in speaking truth that connects to the Lord’s heart.

When you are sad, when others are cruel, when you feel alone and unwanted, shout the truth of your beauty. Tell the darkness that you are beautiful and desirable because the Lord, the only One who really matters, loves you. When you feel ugly and unworthy, tell yourself that your beauty lies in the eyes of the Beholder. He who looks on you with love in His heart sees a beauty that you may not see. But it is there.

And, of course, when you look at others (remembering the truth about yourself) you should remind yourself that they are beautiful as well. Even those who have not come to Jesus for salvation have a hidden beauty God desires. They are made in His image just like you.

The day will come when we will be in the presence of God as a community of believers, and we will see the love in His eyes for each one of us. Then we will understand and believe that it is His love that has made us beautiful.

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