Posted in Character, Faith

Taking off the Mask of Pride

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Pride can take many forms. As a long-time Christian, I like to think that I’m free from it. Just when I feel pretty comfortable about my relationship with Jesus, He reveals a hidden area of pride. The Lord recently unmasked some pride in my life at a doctor’s appointment. I have been dealing with some health issues for many years, all my life really. When he mentioned that I will probably need to be on medication for the rest of my life, tears filled my eyes. I didn’t like hearing that news, and I told him so. Ever so wisely and I believe he was led by the Holy Spirit (My doctor is a Christian), he asked me to explain. I told him I know the Lord uses medication to bring healing, and I would completely support my husband or kids or friends taking medication to support their health. But I don’t want to be that person…the one needing to take the medication. Gently my doctor inquired, “Do you think that might be a form of pride?” Immediately I sensed the Lord’s conviction, and I said, “You have definitely given me something to pray and think about.”

I went home and prayed about it. Sure enough…the Lord shined His gracious light into my soul. I want to be the one person in my circle of family and friends to be untouched by physical or mental pain. I want to be free from the need of any medical or emotional assistance. Why? Because I want to be the person lending encouragement and support without requiring anything in return. Because I want to be available to minister from a place of strength to those that are hurting. Suddenly I saw it clearly. Beneath the noble looking veneer lay spiritual pride. My desire centered on being adequate in my self rather than dependent on Jesus.

Spiritual pride is deceptive and sneaky. It disguises itself in many forms, and it can take prayerful discernment to recognize it. Here are just a few ways it shows up.

Being ungrateful. Pride blinds people to their blessings. What we have is not good enough, and we complain about it. When asked how he was doing, my former pastor would always answer, “Better than I deserve.” He was keenly aware of God’s grace. In reality, because of our sinful, fallen natures we deserve nothing good, and yet the Lord blesses us far more than we deserve. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Ps. 107:1).

Wanting recognition. Pride causes people to seek attention from others with a desire to please them. If our efforts are not noticed, we feel rejected or resentful. As Christians we are to do everything as to the Lord and not to men. If you serve others, God notices. That’s all the recognition we need. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ” (Col. 3:23-24).

Acting defensive. People that struggle with pride are unteachable. We are not receptive to learning from others, and do not listen well. We do not readily admit to making mistakes, and often will blame others. “Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning” (Pro.9:9). Pride is also highly critical of other’s shortcomings, quick to notice and point out other’s faults, while deflecting or making allowances for own own. The Scriptures in Gal. 5:22-23 describes the fruit of the Spirit that should characterize our lives. Our approach to others should be loving, patient, kind, and gentle.

Seeking independence. This is one I struggle with most. It manifests in two thoughts: “Don’t be a burden” and “Do it perfectly.” God created human beings for relationship with Himself and each other. His Word instructs us about the vitality found in community. Somehow though we still buy in to the “self-made man or woman.” As we try to be self-sufficient, pride isolates us. Not wanting to burden others (or the Lord) with our problems cuts us off from the life-giving source we need. Spirit-filled community is highlighted throughout The Book of Acts. Then there is “Do it perfectly.” That belief is a slave driver. Perfectionism torments us to strive to be perfect, which is absolutely impossible. Perhaps, then, we will be pleased with ourselves and worthy before the Lord. Pride tells us our value is determined by our works and we are capable of achieving it ourselves. It ignores the grace of God He so lovingly gives and upon which He builds His Kingdom. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

So I have surrendered this area of pride to the Lord. I am taking my medicine every day and thanking the Lord for it. I believe that He is ultimately my healer, but I am not the one in charge of how that looks. He is.

“…The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8, NLT).

Friends, I issue you a personal challenge. Ask the Lord to reveal an area of your life where you allow pride to affect your thinking or actions. Refuse pride access and open your heart to His humility and grace.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I come before You, knowing that I am prone to pride. Forgive me for the times I am ungrateful and seek personal recognition. Forgive me when I am critical of others and for the desire to be sufficient and perfect in myself. Open my eyes by the Holy Spirit when I open the door to pride. Teach me to walk in humility, love, and complete dependence on you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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Posted in Faith, Personal Development

What Does Waiting Look Like?

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I can be an impatient person, especially when I see in my mind the pieces needed to make a plan work, and then…for some reason…it takes time…for the pieces…to come together. More time than I want it to take. Waiting can put a huge strain on the fruit of the Spirit in my life. For example, we really need a nurse manager for the pregnancy center I direct. Last October I thought I had found the right person, someone that could move our mission forward with efficiency and expand the services we offer to our community. It seemed like a perfect fit. And at the last minute, the details fell apart. Now in February, there is still no nurse manager. I am waiting.

It’s not for lack of trying. We have posted the job everywhere we can think. It’s not for lack of praying. Hundreds of people have been praying for the Lord to bring His person to our ministry. And still…we wait. In the meantime, the Lord has graciously provided the medical staff coverage we need each week. Even at the last minute, when someone in charge mistakenly thought there was coverage and there really wasn’t. (Yes, it was my fault!) So I’m not complaining, but I just dislike waiting.

God’s Word talks a lot about waiting, though.

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD (Psalm 27:14).

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope (Psalm 130:5).

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

There are still more than 150 references to go. What the verses above have in common is the word “wait” means “to expect, hope, or be eager.” They also mention waiting “for the Lord.”

It isn’t passive. It isn’t sitting around, grumbling and complaining. It also isn’t allowing anxiety and fear to dominate. It is attending to the tasks at hand, while having an active expectation for what the Lord will do.

While I am waiting, I need to remember that this ministry is God’s ministry. I set aside my desire for control and trust the Lord to have His way with the organization that is dear to His heart. But then it gets even closer to home. My life is God’s life. When things take longer than I think they should, whether on an organizational level or in my personal/family life, I need to remember that it isn’t a reflection of me. Do I really trust that the Lord knows what is best for me? Do I really believe that He orchestrates the details of my life to build His Kingdom? Even more importantly, am I really convinced in the depths of my being that He loves me?

When I can answer “yes” to these questions, I wait in active expectation for the Lord. If I can’t answer “yes,” I need the Holy Spirit to reveal what I am believing and why, and to help me believe the truth. Then I can wait in a way that truly honors Him.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You know the situations I face that require waiting for You. May I be convinced of Your deep love for me. Teach me to trust in Your goodness and perfect timing. I believe. Please help my unbelief. Let me serve You faithfully with hopeful expectation for what You will do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Posted in Faith, Servant Leadership

It’s Okay to Be Weak

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I don’t like feeling weak. It’s discouraging to know that I don’t have the skills, strength, confidence, or health needed to get the job done. I’m the lady who, when nine months pregnant, insisted on rearranging my living room furniture by myself. Don’t tell me that I can’t do something, because it will make me work even harder to prove you wrong. At least that’s the way it was when I was younger. However, for the last ten years or so, around the time I turned 40, I have started taking a more gentle and realistic approach, as the paradoxes of God’s Kingdom make more sense to me.

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs (Matthew 5:3).

The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Matthew 23:11-12).

The poor are blessed; the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. The greatest are servants. The humble are exalted.

Jesus’ teaching are contrary to the way things run in the world.

The Apostle Paul makes a statement that also seems contradictory.

Each time [the Lord] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Throughout the Bible we see that the Lord called people who doubted their own abilities to accomplish His plans. He used them in miraculous ways. We’re in good company.

There is a saying that describes this principle, “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.”

This doesn’t mean that the Lord will only use people who are unqualified for a position. Rather He uses those who rely on Him to go beyond their own natural skills. As the Creator of the universe, He can take what we have, no matter how small, and turn it into so much more. He is not limited when we are weak. Instead the power of Christ works through our weaknesses. His presence and anointing make us strong. He can provide unseen opportunities by making a way where there seems to be no way.

Two times Jesus fed the multitudes. He took the few fish and loaves of bread offered to Him, and provided for the masses.

If you’re like me, the tendency is to resist when encountering weakness and obstacles. I get frustrated with my perceived lack of resources or ability. However, such a response is counter productive. The Lord delights when we respond by surrendering to His will and trusting Him to accomplish it. It may not seem possible. It may not make sense. Yet, we rely on Him to do amazing things.

It’s okay to be weak. Really. It’s then that the Lord reveals His mighty strength through us.

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power (Ephesians 6:10).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You are strong and mighty. Nothing is impossible with You. Help me to trust in Your faithfulness, believing that You use foolish and weak things to confound the wise and mighty. I surrender to Your will, and ask that You take my life and use it for Your glory. I offer You my weaknesses. Flow through me with the strength of Your Spirit. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Posted in Faith, Servant Leadership

It’s Okay to Be Uncomfortable

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wor·ry
ˈwərē/
verb  1. give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 12:25).

Jesus Christ posed an interesting question to his disciples, to challenge their thinking. Worry is so common to human beings that for some people it seems as natural a response as breathing, yet the Master pointed them to a higher way. The obvious answer, although none of them dared to speak up, was “Nobody, Lord. Nobody can add a single hour to their life by worrying.”

Here we are 2000 years later, and how would we answer? I personally would be like the disciples and not say a word. I would try to quietly back out of the room to avoid further conversation. I know the facts. Worry has probably stolen hours from my life. However, my thoughts and actions speak much louder than any words I might produce. Allowing my mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles contributes nothing positive. But when I worry I somehow convince myself that it gives me some control over the situation.

May I just be honest with you? I don’t like feeling that things are outside of my control, because it is uncomfortable. I don’t like being uncomfortable, because it is, at the very least, unsettling, and at the most, terrifying. Some of it is my personality, some of it is the experiences of my past. Regardless of the reasons for why I am the way I am, safety and predictability are what I desire. I know some of you can relate.

The trouble is being a follower of Jesus requires faith. Faith is the opposite of worry. Being a good leader also requires faith. Again, in case you missed it the first time, faith is the opposite of worry.

faith
fāTH/
noun  1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith means that we have complete trust and confidence in the Lord. It also means we may feel uncomfortable humanly speaking.

I know some leaders that thrive when they embark on an adventure of faith. It is thrilling for them to be in a position to see God work beyond their own abilities. I am like the other leaders that are learning to thrive in the midst of an adventure that requires faith. My flesh still yearns to walk in the territory of the known, but the Lord shows Himself strong on my behalf. I don’t have to love walking by faith and not by sight. However, I do need to learn that it’s okay to be uncomfortable.
Last weekend the non-profit organization I lead had a 5K fundraising event. Last year my Board and I felt that the Lord was directing us to have such an event. Last year was an experiment and it went well for our first run. This year it was hard to get the momentum going. We increased our advertising, but registration was slow. For weeks I struggled with worry. I still believed we were following the Lord’s direction, but the anxiety mounted. I resisted imagining the worst, but the thoughts persisted.

This 5K is going to be a flop.
Nobody is going to sign up.
The weather will be terrible. Nobody will show up to help or participate.
Nobody will give to underwrite our expenses.
We will lose money.
All our donors will quit giving to us and give to another organization.
After 32 years of serving the community, we will close our doors.

I acted brave around my Board and staff, but I was miserable inside. Then the Lord in His sweet mercy broke through the internal clamor, and I heard Him speak gently to my heart.

Will you be okay with being uncomfortable? Will you trust Me, no matter what happens?

I again surrendered my desire to be in control, and God’s peace surrounded my heart and mind.

I am called to do my best; the outcome belongs to the Lord.

The organization I lead is ultimately led by Him.

Success looks differently to me than to the Lord.

He will provide what my organization needs, using resources I may not see at the time.

I can rest in assurance that the Lord will accomplish His plans through me for His greater purposes.

By the way, my resolve to trust the Lord was tested when there were only 13 people registered two weeks before the 5K. I held fast to faith in the Lord and chose to be okay with being uncomfortable. I experienced peace during the uncertainty, and the event came together wonderfully in the last few days.

As long as we live on this earth, there will be a battle between worry and faith. We can learn to trust the Lord no matter what happens. Victory comes when we decide it’s okay to be uncomfortable.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that Your plans are greater than I can see. Help me to trust You when things don’t go according to my plans. Teach me to banish worry and choose to have faith in You. Accomplish your purposes for my family and ministry through me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Posted in Character, Faith

Not a Fair Weather Follower

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On February 19, 2017, my family and I experienced the trauma of an armed invasion of our home. The last three weeks I have been asked several times by well meaning inquirers if it has shaken my faith. To be quite honest…No, it has not. While it has shaken my faith in some people, it hasn’t shaken my faith in Jesus.

I understand where their questions are coming from. After all, how could a loving God allow such a violent crime to happen to His children?

I don’t have the answers, but I don’t need them. Nearly three decades of serving in ministry and caring for people in the throes of tragedy have taught me there are no easy answers. I have read many excellent theological works examining the problems of evil and suffering, but none of them truly soothes the anguished soul.

There is only one thing that brings comfort and peace to me in the storms of life: Running to Jesus.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8).

It’s so simple that we miss it. Many of us run away from Jesus when we are hurt or disappointed. We become jaded that our faithful God-honoring prayers haven’t been answered or when we encounter difficulties that don’t make sense. We close ourselves off from our Helper and Healer, and bitterly rely on our own strength and the power of our own intellect. We shake our fists at the Lord rather than raise our hands in surrender.

Yet, in this broken world, groaning under the weight of sinful choices of past generations as well as our own, the only thing that makes sense to me is finding refuge in Jesus.

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe (Proverbs 18:10).

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:7-8).

Thirty-six years ago this month, I committed my life to Jesus. As a young teenager, I sat on the front steps of my grandparents’ house, talking to the Lord. “I give my life to You. Even if nobody else in my whole world understands, I will follow You all the days of my life.” I meant it with every fiber of my being.

However, like a bride madly in love on her wedding day, I really had no clue what that meant. When a couple vows to stay together “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death parts us,” they are sincere. But they can’t possibly know what “worse,” “poorer” and “sickness” will look like. I was thoroughly captivated by the One who loves me and gave His life for me. I was determined to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As is always the case, life happened.

The early years of walking with Jesus and serving in ministry were filled with blessings and miraculous answers to prayer. Somehow I came to expect that the blessings were a reward for faithfully following Jesus and believing God’s Word. Eventually though that castle of cards came crashing down. I had to ask myself, “Why am I following Jesus?”
Is it because…
…I want my sins forgiven?
…He promises to bless me?
…He will protect me from bad things?
…All the people I care about follow Him?
…He will make my life easier?
…I feel called to the ministry?                                                                                                                   …I need my own genie in a bottle with unlimited wishes?

 

I realized that if I follow Jesus, because of the blessings I think I am entitled to here on this earth, then I am really a fair weather follower. Trials will come, disappointments will set in, and I will walk away from a faith that is no longer working for me.

When my youngest daughter was born with spina bifida, my faith was tested. I was devastated that she had a serious birth defect. I was angry that God hadn’t revealed Himself as the Great Physician, even though thousands of people around the globe were fervently praying. For a period of over two years, I did some serious soul searching. “Why am I following Jesus?”

Would I be like Job who despite the physical and emotional agony of losing everything continued to praise the Lord?

Or would I be like Job’s wife who advised him to “curse God and die.”

Would I be a fair weather follower like the crowd in John Chapter 6? They were offended because the teachings of Jesus were too hard. They turned away and no longer walked with Him.

Through the years on this journey with Jesus, I may not have always gotten what I thought would be good. But I have found to be true what the Apostle Peter declared long ago.

So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).

I am not a fair weather follower of Jesus.

Recently I texted my dear friend that struggles with Multiple Sclerosis. She is a follower of Jesus whose trust in Him inspires me. I wrote:

“This life doesn’t always make sense and the only way I know to navigate the difficulties is to desperately rely on Jesus.”

I sent these words 12 hours before three criminals entered our home and stories.

Though trouble may visit my family and my own life be threatened, I follow Jesus. He is my Refuge. He causes me to be resilient. Through the power of His Spirit I thrive.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

My friend, let me encourage you. Don’t be a fair weather follower. No matter what, follow Jesus.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, here I am with a heart of surrender. I choose to trust You when things don’t make sense. I choose to follow You wherever You lead. During times of trial, help me to run to You and not away from You. You are my Refuge and my Strength, always near in times of trouble. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Posted in Faith

Playing Hide and Seek with God

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I stood in the dark closet, pressed tightly against the back corner. Coats and boxes camouflaged my form, but I made myself as small as possible. The thump-thump-thump of feet came closer and closer. The door swung open and light flooded the darkness. Holding my breath and squeezing my eyes shut, I longed for my pursuer to vanish. The moments hung suspended in air until finally…finally the door shut. Steps quickly moved in a different direction away from me. I was safe.

I remained in my hiding place, a bit more relaxed, until a desperate, pleading cry reached my ears. “Mom, where are you? I give up!”

Hide and Seek. I’ve played that game more times than I can count, as a kid growing up and as a parent with my own kids. Even as a grown up, there were times I didn’t want to be found, but would only give up hiding when it became clear that my child’s emotional well-being was at stake. I can be good at hiding when I want to, and not just when playing the game. Sometimes I find myself hiding from the Lord.

It’s human nature to hide from the Lord. We may get angry when life get tough or when facing a painful turn of events. We may feel shame when we make decisions that disappoint ourselves and hurt others. And so we hide.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees (Genesis 3:8, NLT).

Like the first man and woman when they tasted sin and realized their nakedness, we hide from our Creator, the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. We cover up with the impressive garments we’ve fashioned ourselves, forgetting that our heavenly Father sees where we are and where we’ve been.

I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you (Psalm 139:7, 11-12).

It is futile to hide from the Lord, and yet we try so very hard.

During an extended struggle with depression, I found myself hiding from the Lord. I kept occupied with the duties of raising young children and leading our small church. I prayed for others’ needs, but kept my own longings hidden away deep inside me. I hid beneath a thick mantle of faithfulness, going through the motions but not wanting to be seen.

One Saturday evening during service preparations, I knelt at a makeshift altar at the front of the sanctuary. As I expressed my troubles, I saw a picture of what I somehow knew to be my own heart. It was completely black, shriveled, and lifeless. I sensed the Lord’s gentle invitation, “You are infected with bitterness. Would you like me to take care this?”
Instantly I shrank back, ashamed that I had allowed myself to get into such a condition, and convinced that it would take too much time to be restored. “No, Lord! Not now.” Feeling hopeless and helpless, I hid behind the myriad tasks that characterized my life.

Two months later, I sat in my mom’s living room. The kids were still sleeping and I was soaking in the rare moments of silence. All of a sudden without any warning, I sensed the Lord’s gentle invitation again. “Are you ready now?” He had found me, and this time I knew I couldn’t hide. Tears streamed down my face, as I viewed mental picture after picture of offenses I had been harboring. I released each situation to the Lord, and could feel the bitterness being washed away. It stopped as suddenly as it had started. A holy sense of peace settled over me, and I felt clean and new inside. I looked at the clock, and was shocked to realize the entire glorious and powerful experience had lasted a mere 15 minutes!

Why had I hidden from the Lord for so long? I had allowed anger and bitterness and false assumptions to keep me from receiving what He lovingly had been offering. Tears flowed anew, as I thanked Him for seeking me with such patience.

This marvelous story happened over twenty years ago, but it is indelibly tattooed on my soul. It reminds me time and time again to be the seeker rather than a hider.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV).

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

I love how Jason Chin, author of Love Says Go and my brother, describes the game of Hide and Seek with our Heavenly Father. Just like a parent hiding so his young child can purposefully find him, our Heavenly Father is hiding to be found. There is mutual delight when His children find Him.

We go through seasons where the Lord seems to have found a good hiding place. Sometimes He seems silent and far away. However, hiding from Him will never provide the peace we need. The Lord is the only One with the answers we need to move forward. When there are no answers to our questions, we have the blessed assurance that He is our good and loving Father.

The storms of life may threaten to overwhelm us, but we must seek the Lord until we experience His presence. We thrive when we no longer hide from Him, but rather seek Him with all our hearts.

Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always (1 Chronicles 16:11).

Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:8a).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I confess that when life is hard, it is easy to hide from You. Reveal to me when I am hiding, and teach me to seek You always. Help me to trust that You are my good and loving Father. May I rest in You and know that it will be well. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Posted in Character, Faith

Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy

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Life can be tough. We live in a fallen world, and there is a devil whose mission is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). But can I just be honest with you? Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. I can be so skilled at sabotaging myself, the devil doesn’t have to be around for me to mess things up. I don’t want to dismiss the presence of evil. However, as a human being, I prefer blaming someone else when I should take responsibility for my own actions. The devil may be the tempter, but I’m the one who takes the bait.

I am so grateful for God’s promise of victorious love in Romans 8:38-39:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When I’m steeped in self-sabotage mode, I believe that circumstances or people in my life block my ability to experience God’s love. If God loves me so much and His love is so powerful, why can’t I see it? I fail to realize that I, through incorrect thinking, have separated myself.

Thankfully I’m learning to detect some of my self-sabotaging attitudes more quickly these days. I am more aware of when the negative thoughts begin, and then I turn my attention to Jesus.

What are some of these self-sabotaging attitudes?

Self-pity. I adopt a victim mentality. Nothing about my situation is good and there is nothing I can do about it. Because nobody really understands the depth of my pain, I dismiss anything they say to help me as invalid.

Pride. I question God’s sovereignty and wonder if He is really in control. After all, I think that my plans, purposes, and priorities are better than His. I know what my life should look like. I am impatient with His timing and resent the detours along the way.

Unbelief. Ultimately I don’t trust the Lord with my life. I lose sight that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving. As a result all I can see are limitations and lack. Fear or discouragement takes over as I assume the worst.

After recognizing self-sabotage, how do I turn my attention to Jesus?

Exchange self-pity for gratitude. God doesn’t “owe” me anything. He provided the way for me to be in relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. That is enough, and I am truly blessed. The Lord has given me everything I am and all I that have. No matter how tough my situation, I can experience joy and peace through the Holy Spirit. I determine to be content and grateful.

Exchange pride for humility. I confess that I really don’t know what is best. I surrender my life anew to God and acknowledge that apart from Him I can do nothing. I ask the Lord for a teachable spirit and look for opportunities to serve others.

Exchange unbelief for trust. I can identify with the father in Mark Chapter 9 who begged Jesus to deliver his son. “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” (v. 24). I rely on grace to trust Him more. I pray for the Lord to empower me from his glorious, unlimited resources with inner strength through His Spirit. I ask for Christ to make His home in my heart, for my roots to grow down into God’s love and keep me strong (Ephesians 3:17).

Do you recognize self-sabotage in your life? How will you turn your attention to Jesus?

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you (Psalm 9:10).

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that You never leave me where You found me. Thank You for giving me new life and teaching me new ways of living. Help me to see when I have attitudes or do things that sabotage myself. Help me to exchange negative thoughts and actions for thoughts and actions that honor You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.