Saturday, May 27, 2006

Our forgotten value

If we only really understood our true value! Because we often have a wrong perspective of ourselves, we also see others in the same negative light. The key is how God sees us? How should we then see ourselves, and how should that affect our treatment of others?

We easily underestimate our worth as individuals and try to compensate for our deficiencies by pouring ourselves into our work, hoping to find approval and acceptance. We fear that people will appreciate us only if we excel. Our value becomes connected only to externals, those visible deeds expected of us and for which we become known. Self-esteem rises or falls based on our own perception of our performance or by how we imagine others are viewing us. In short, we are self-focused and wholly dependent upon ourselves for stability. This is a recipe for pride, inferiority and endless disappointments.

An inaccurate look at who we are as individuals produces in us a critical spirit towards others. Focusing on their flaws and problems, we can conclude that everyone else sees us with the same disapproval. This judgmental attitude drains energy, and we find ourselves with little patience for others, especially those with the greatest needs. We learn to expect as inevitable life as it has always been, looking at events and people through the prism of past failures. Eventually we conclude that God must certainly think of us in the same way. Hating ourselves and distrusting everyone, we are most miserable.

How amazing that God does not think or act like us! Our Maker has a different view of his children. We are not judged by the work we do. We are loved for who we are, or rather who He has made us to become. "You are fearfully and wonderfully made. . . I have loved you with an everlasting love. . . Your sins and iniquities will I remember no more. . . Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!"

Our acceptance is not based on our performance but on the righteousness given by Jesus Christ. We are of great value to God, so much so that we were purchased with the blood of His own Son. Let us not be be discontent with the Master's working on us. His love for us will then be reflected in our understanding of and compassion for those around us. When MY WORLD and BLURRY WORLD overtakes us with frustrations, let us remember that we are part of HIS WORLD and that we are still of GREAT VALUE.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Your greatest impact

What an amazing recovery! A total transformation had been accomplished! A completely new man had just emerged from years of homelessness, violence, bondage and virtual insanity! Living under torment of the devil in graveyards and often driven into the wilderness, this captive was frequently bound with chains and fetters, and possessed with many demons. Sound familiar? His situation couldn't have been any worse! (Our problems are no match for this man's troubles!) His whole life changed however, when Jesus confronted him, and he found himself sitting in Jesus' presence, clothed and in his right mind.

The first thought is very encouraging. The solution to even the most defiant problems in this world is found in the person of Jesus Christ. In what may have been only a few minutes, that maniac found peace and purpose in his life. The answer is simply a Person, not a philosophy, or a system of gradual improvement. That man of Gadara certainly could not help himself, and so our need can similarly only be met by Christ himself.

Second is the reality of our greatest effectiveness, our central purpose. I notice more than the new purpose is the location of that purpose. This man wanted to continue to stay in Jesus' presence, a natural desire seeing all that had just happened to him. But he was told, "return to thine own house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee." Wouldn't he have preferred to see thousands fed, multitudes healed, and witness first hand the converting of hundreds of his fellow countrymen in great need? But the Lord knew that he would be more effective going home. Indeed, it says that "he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him."

As easy as it is to envy another setting, a different set of circumstances, a completely new set of people, we are told that as with the candle, we are to let the light shine to all that are in the house. Those in our family who know us best will recognize the genuineness of a life transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is usually there that the greatest challenges can be found. Genuine Christianity is first evidenced by Christ's wonderful work done within our own family! We have been placed exactly where all circumstances are right for our growth and our most effective impact. (Luke chapter 8 and Matthew chapter 5)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How could we have been so blind?

My son-in-law playfully warns his young boys, "there's danger, danger all around!" My grandchildren alertly respond to their dad and continue playing, but with a renewed awareness of dad's presence and protection. Dad provides security and carefully safe-guards his own with a gentle but strong arm. The boys are learning obedience out of great love and respect, and learning it impressively. It will serve them well all of their days.

Life is simple for them now, or so it seems from an adult perspective. At some point however, sooner and later, there will be storms, high waters, heated situations, fearful times, even seemingly overwhelming obstacles. The boys would argue that they are there now! But just wait, and they will only intensify.

Many years pass, each not without their necessary storms. Yet they have all been weathered, and somehow they passed. Walks through turbulance, trips across unknown territories, and trials by fire have come and gone. (A colleague of mine jokingly says, "there, there, that wasn't so good!") Hard as it gets, we survive.

True, but is there something or someone we have missed along the way? Someone we fail to respond to? A Dad who watches us very attentively, and who lovingly protects us? Someone whose voice we choose to ignore? Someone who could spare us enormous stress and anxiety? But for some unknown reason we would not see Him or be comforted by Him? Our loss.

"Thus saith the Lord that created thee, and formed thee, Fear not: for I have called thee by name: thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee. Fear not: for I am with thee. I am the Lord, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters." This is from Isaiah chapter 43.

The waters and the fires are prescribed and to be expected, but not to be endured alone. Our Maker, Protector, and Guide calls to us, "danger, danger all around", but "fear not, I will be with thee."