Journey to Oz-5: Truth or Consequences

June 27, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

As I continue to reflect on “truth” and “lies” I once again find myself thinking about what the great theologian George Castanza (you remember George—from the TV show Seinfeld) once said (you can tell the great influencers in my life, huh?):

It’s not a lie if you believe it.

That is a very interesting thought. George’s philosophy comes in pretty handy as we try to navigate the challenges of our lives. The profound truth behind this sitcom one-liner is that we all live this way to a certain extent.

On one hand, the statement is preposterous. A lie is a lie, and a truth is a truth—whether you believe it or not. When George says this, we see that it is merely a way for him to rationalize irrational, immoral, or selfish behavior. He states this “mantra for living” so that he can do whatever it is he wants to do (with very entertaining consequences).

On the other hand, believing a lie can create truth (did I just write that?!? Maybe this thinking stuff is too hard for me). Here’s what I mean. Say I’m a high school student (“you’re a high school student”). I am a sophomore and I do not excel in the classroom at all. I am four foot nine and weight 103 pounds. I wear glasses and have a lot of acne. I am shy and often say the wrong thing at the wrong time (you probably knew someone like me or were me). Although my parents tell me that I am a wonderful boy and that there is a girl for me out there somewhere (probably true), my friends (and enemies) tell me something completely different. They say that I will never get a date. They say that no girl would ever want to be seen with me (probably not true). I, however, look in the mirror and begin to believe the lie that no one would ever be attracted to me. This causes me to become even more self-conscious. I avoid girls at all costs, and when I am around them I get so nervous my nose bleeds. If a girl is nice to me, I decide that she is just toying with me—that she is setting me up as some kind of joke—so I take actions to “beat her to the punch” and get her first. This tactic causes even more alienation… I do not date in high school.

Does this sound far-fetched? If so, you need to hang around teen-agers more often. You also need to be a little more honest with yourself.

Let me ask you this. Have you ever said something like…

“I’ll never lose that weight, I’m not disciplined enough.”

“I’m a worrier—that’s just what I do.”

“I can’t help the way I react.”

“The glass is always ‘half empty’ with me—that’s the way I am.”

“I’ll never get out of debt because I cannot manage money.”

“I’m a screw-up and always will be!”

“I’m nothing without my [job, family, spouse, skill, object].”

“I’d be happy if only I had a [job, family, spouse, skill, object].”

If so, you’re believing a lie (or perhaps a “half-truth” we’ve been talking about). The question isn’t whether you’ve had these thoughts or not (I imagine we’ve all been there), it’s why do we have them and what do we do with them.

I liked Joel’s comment about how we may believe half-truths “because it’s just plain easier”. Even though there are consequences to believing a lie, it may be easier than facing the truth. And here is what I think is easier about it: I am in control. I am the authority, I am in charge, I am the decision maker, I call the shots. And there is something deep inside of me that really, really (would it be too much to add another “really” here?!?), really desires that control.

When Georgie says, “It’s not a lie if you believe it” he is really saying, “I want to create my own reality where I get to call the shots!” And you know what—we want that even if it means that we have to suffer some consequences. That’s what Eve wanted. That’s why she went for the fruit (By the way, I love it when people say something like, “I wouldn’t have eaten the fruit… Why didn’t God put me in the garden? Then none of this sin stuff would have ever happened!… If I were in the garden, I would have eaten the fruit before God even took my rib to make a woman!). Adam and Eve saw an opportunity to take matters in their own hands—and they went with it.

Let’s be real honest here. The toughest part of the Christian life is surrendering to God. It’s giving him the control. It’s recognizing his authority. It is obeying his commands. It’s letting him call the shots. It is believing that he will actually direct and guide you—that he loves you and cares for you and has your best interests at heart.

I became a Christian at a very confusing time in my life. It was just after college and I was embarking on MY LIFE. Preparation time was over (college, education, living at home)—it was time to get going (job, wife, family). But I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to do it. That was scary.

Then I came across this verse in the Bible (I’d heard it before, but God put it in front of me when I needed it most).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

[6] in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

The words touched my heart. This is what I need! I thought. This is what I’m looking for! Guidance, direction, straight paths instead of dark, winding, roads. I need to “trust God” not myself! I need to acknowledge HIM not ME. I need HIS unlimited understanding and wisdom and knowledge—not MY limited, feeble, understanding.

I rejected the lie that I could build MY LIFE on my own, and believed the truth that I could only build MY LIFE on God. This truth became crystal clear during that time.

So, I trusted HIM. And he started to make my paths straight (at times, not always as straight as I would have liked). And life was grand.

Until I started to want the control of MY LIFE back (approximately 17 hours after “This truth became crystal clear”). Until I decided that we could (should) do MY LIFE as a partnership instead of a sole proprietorship (he would be the “silent” partner). Until I figured that I could (should) call some (most) of the shots of MY LIFE, and he could handle the big ones (provision, health, security, peace, joy, etc.). Until I determined that I could (should) handle the “earthly” rules of MY LIFE, and he could be responsible for “heavenly” rules (after all, his house, his rules… that’s only fair).

Can you see the lie I bought (like Eve, like Adam). It goes against a real basic Christian truth… Do you see it? (I’ll give you a hint: look at the paragraph above and see what two words keep jumping out at you.)

The lie is that I often think of my life as MY LIFE. And it’s not, not anymore, at least. See, Jesus doesn’t want to just help me to improve my life—He wants to live HIS LIFE through me. If you are a follower of Jesus the same thing is true about you. YOUR LIFE has become HIS LIFE. You are “in Christ” and Christ is “in you”.

Jesus said,

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. [24] For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

(Luke 9:23-24)

This is a tough passage, huh? It seems to make no sense. How can I “save” my life by “losing” it? What does “deny myself” mean? When I am faced with Jesus’ words, I could conclude that I don’t want to go there! Lose my life, deny myself. Those don’t sound fun. And it may appear easier. To ignore them and go my own way.

But it’s not. That’s a lie too. There is one message I need to understand from Jesus and other writer’s of the New Testament. And it’s simply this: JESUS IS MY LIFE.

Look at these verses…

John 11:25

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Col. 3:3-4

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

John 1:4

In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

There is no life apart from Jesus. I can pretend that that’s not true; I can posture and preen and postulate wonderful lies like “God helps those who help themselves”; I can self-motivate, self-invigorate, and self-carbonate. But that doesn’t change the truth. When I try to live MY LIFE on MY OWN by MY STRENGTH and MY TALENTS I’ll need a lot of MYLANTA… Because it doesn’t work.

This whole challenge of BELIEVE THE TRUTH and REJECT ALL LIES rests on one person: Jesus… If we don’t accept that, we’re going alone. And Jesus doesn’t want us to go alone. That’s why he promises to always be with us. That’s why he sent the Holy Spirit. That’s why we don’t have to be afraid. That’s why we can trust Jesus to reveal the truth.

So here’s the question… Do you believe Jesus?

Grace and peace,

Doug

Journey to Oz-4: Where Do Lies Come From?

June 21, 2007 by · 2 Comments 

How can we be courageous and brave? We’ve already said that we need to BELIEVE THE TRUTH and REJECT ALL LIES. But as Joel indicated in his comment that is easier said than done. Sometimes it is difficult to identify the LIES. They are often “half-truths” that sound right and feel right but are not right.

I tend to agree with Joel. The half-truths are the killers. To understand half-truths, I think we need to understand where they came from.

In our last Journey to Oz I mentioned that Satan—the Father of Lies—initiated this confusion about Truth. As a destroyer, he began his work on God’s creation in the Garden. In Genesis 3, the Deceiver—in the form of a serpent—initiates his attack on Truth. And he does it with a question:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1—NIV)

What is the focus of his question? God’s Word… He begins his attack by creating some doubt about what God has said is true—he’s creating doubt about God’s Word. And notice, the assault is not a blatant reversal of God’s word. That would be too easy to reject. The attack is more subtle. The attack is camouflaged in a half-truth. He takes what God says and changes it ever so slightly. Look how Eve responds…

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, [3] but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” (Genesis 3:2-3—NIV)

Eve corrects the Deceiver. She answers (accurately) that God said they could eat from the trees in the garden—except one. (Hooray Eve—how to go!)… But then look at what she does: she adds something to what God says. Eve says that she and Adam can’t even touch the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. Did God say that? (If you are not sure of the answer, see Genesis 2:15-17).

Eve takes it upon herself to add to God’s Truth.

Let’s stop for a moment. Because I think this is a pretty big point. What do you think of Eve’s addition here? On one hand, it makes sense. I mean, if they don’t even touch the fruit they will never eat it. The rule that Eve adds will help Adam and Eve avoid breaking God’s command.

It’s kinda like this (Here is a wonderfully vivid illustration). If I don’t want my children to play in the street, I can make a rule—issue a command: Thou shalt not play in the street. If thou playest in the street, thou shalt be grounded. (I often speak this way while issuing edicts to my children)

Now, that’s a pretty good rule. Streets are dangerous. My children could get hurt. I want to protect them. I do, however, want them to play. I want them to enjoy our beautiful front lawn. I want them to run and jump and frolic (I think we all need a good “frolic” every now and then).

So my kids play. They run, jump, and frolic. They’re having a ball. While they are playing one day, however, a person walks by and asks, “Did your dad really say you can’t play out front.” My oldest daughter responds, “No, we can play out front. We just can’t play in the street—in fact, we can’t even cross the sidewalk—or we’ll be grounded.”

Now here’s the question: Did my daughter tell the truth? She kinda did… but she added something—and in doing so, she has altered the truth I originally gave to her.

Although she may be adding to the truth in an effort to obey, she is also limiting the freedom I had given my kids to play in the whole front yard (including the area between the sidewalk and the street—an incredibly fun place to play).

Okay, maybe that illustration is not “wonderfully vivid” as promised. But you get the point, right? By questioning God’s Word, the serpent has created some doubt and the truth is altered.

So now, the trap is set. Eve is willing to alter God’s truth (even with good intentions) and Satan moves to phase two.

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. [5] “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Because the truth has already been changed once (“and you must not touch it, or you will die”), Satan goes with a big lie (“You will not surely die,”) and he follows it up by creating some doubt about God’s goodness. Basically, he is saying that God is holding something back from Adam and Eve. He doesn’t have their best interests at heart. He is keeping something from them. He can’t be trusted. He is not for you.

I wonder how long it took. I wonder how long Eve pondered this lie. I wonder if she thought about her situation much. Did she look at all the other trees in the garden? Did she walk around and eat from all the other trees that God had provided so graciously. Did she think about everything she knew about God thus far—how he had given them everything?… Did she see the beauty of the garden? The beauty of Adam? The beauty of God?

Scripture doesn’t answer this question. But we do know this. She didn’t reject the lie. She believed it.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6

And then everything changed. Truth became fuzzy or squishy or gray. And with that came a flood of new feelings and emotions and actions. Things that up until this point were nonexistent in creation: shame (Gen. 3:7), hiding (Gen. 3:8), separation (Gen. 3:9), fear (Gen. 3:10), anger (Gen. 3:12), blame (Gen. 3:12, 13).

It’s painful to read this chapter of the Bible, because it is so real. I understand this struggle. I understand these feelings and emotions and actions. I understand all this because I live it. This chapter is so painful because it is about me and about how I have often dealt with truth. It shows how I can doubt God’s Word and God’s goodness. How I, like Eve, add to his truth. How I, like Eve, question his goodness. How I, like Eve, ignore all that God has given me and, instead, focus on what I think I am missing or deserve or need.

So, how can I BELIEVE THE TRUTH and REJECT ALL LIES if I can’t even recognize the truth!

Well, here’s the cool part of the story from Genesis that we can’t miss (so keep reading). After Adam and Eve succumb to the Deceiver’s attack on Truth—after they disobey—look at what God does.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)

He comes for Adam (remember Adam is hiding from God at this point—in fact, he’s covered in fig leaves and crouching in the bushes!). God comes for the one who disobeyed. He comes to affirm Truth. He comes to renounce lies. He comes to Adam in Genesis 3—in spite of his sin.

And he came for us. Not to a garden, but to a stable. God entered into the fuzziness and squishiness and grayness of our world. God came for the ones who disobeyed. He came to affirm Truth. He came to renounce lies. He came to us in Matthew and Mark and Luke, and John—in spite of our sins.

John says this about the coming of Jesus…

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Jesus talked a lot about “truth”. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” John 14:6) and in the gospels, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth” 78 times (in the NIV). Then he says that his followers will receive the Spirit of Truth (Holy Spirit) who will live in us (John 14:17) and guide us (John 16:13).

What does all this mean? It means that perhaps the first TRUTH TO BELIEVE is that God will actually reveal Truth to you through his Holy Spirit—and that you will actually be able to understand that Truth! With that in mind, the first LIE TO REJECT is that you can’t understand because you are such a mess.

God’s Truth is bigger than Satan’s Lies—and it’s bigger than your limitations.

Your Father wants to teach you about TRUTH. Trust him. Believe that the Holy Spirit will really guide and direct you into Truth. And sit back and enjoy the ride.

 

Grace and peace,

Doug

Father’s Day 20 Questions

June 13, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

This Sunday is Father’s Day. A time to honor dads. Since we’ve been talking about courage, I though it would be appropriate to take a little detour to talk about fathers this week (after all, they have to be courageous, right!?!).

“Father’s Day” is a holiday, and I’d say that the primary reason we have “Father’s Day” is so that we set aside some time to reflect on our fathers. So that’s what we’re going to do…

Below you will find a questionnaire about your Dad (no matter how old you are, whether your dad is here or not, whether you are a dad or not). This can be something you decide to share with your dad or just keep for yourself.

This Sunday at our church, I’m going to ask people to share the answers they are comfortable sharing (and that are appropriate) with the group (this started out as a way to get the kids involved and participating in the service—but we all have or have had dads—so it’s for all of us). If you want to make up your own questions to add to this, feel free to do so… (Moms—you may want to go through these questions with the younger kids. I suggest that you let the older one 6/7 and above work on their own at first.)

Skip any questions you want…

Have fun. (NOTE: This CAN BE USED as a Father’s Day gift!!!)

 

1) What are three things that dads do?

2) What does your dad do for you that your mom can’t?

3) What three adjectives best describe your dad?

4) What is your favorite thing to do with your dad?

5) If your dad isn’t working or playing with you, what does he enjoy doing by himself?

6) What does your dad do as a job?

7) What is important about your dad’s job?

8) How do you know when your dad is happy?

9) Name something that your dad is really good at?

10) Name something that your dad is not so good at?

11) If your dad wasn’t doing the job he has now, what do you think he would be good at?

12) What do you like the best about your dad?

13) What does your dad do to help around the house?

14) What do you know about your dad that other people may not know?

15) What do you think is the hardest part about being a dad?

16) What do you think is the best part about being a dad?

17) Where (what place) do you think your dad is the happiest?

18) When is the best time to talk to your dad?

19) What is cool about your dad?

20) Is there anything you should thank your dad for that you haven’t yet (or haven’t thanked him in a while for)?

 

Have a wonderful Father’s Day!!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug

Journey to Oz 3… REJECT ALL LIES

June 8, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

Recap: For those of you just joining in—we’re talking about courage and bravery. How to be brave; where courage comes from; etc.

Last week, we said that we need to BELIEVE THE TRUTH. This week, I want to introduce a related idea… REJECT ALL LIES.

Here’s the deal. God is Truth. His Word is Truth. In it, we learn about God and ourselves. So why do we struggle with Truth—it should be easy, right?

Well, I think you know the answer. There is a deceiver at work in the universe as well. The Father of Lies. Satan. The evil one.

I like something I heard from author Steve McVey. He said, “If the truth sets you free, what do lies do? They put you in bondage.”

In this process of “believing the truth”, we will also have to “reject all lies”.

I got an e-mail from a good friend this week that I wanted to include here because it will help us ponder the idea of lies and how they influence our lives. Here’s what it said:

I normally don’t send out things like this, but after reading it, I thought that this would bless and benefit many folks. Know this, you are special and I love you.

Craig

 

June 7, 2007

Victoria Boyson:

“IT’S TIME TO REBEL AGAINST THE LIES OF THE ENEMY!”

I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was in seventh grade, and I sat next to Chloe Nelson. She was positively convinced she was better than me in every way. Nothing I did seemed to please her or make her like me. I still remember the day she first told me I was “weird;” it jabbed into my twelve-year-old mind like a knife, cutting away even more of my security about myself.

And I remember the day I overheard a relative say to others in the family about me, “She’s too sensitive.” And yes, there were others who thought I was not sensitive enough.

Then, just this week someone told me I was weird because I fasted too much.

We all have those little comments locked away in our minds–words spoken in the form of a curse or accusation against us–sent from hell to erode away our sense of who we are and Whose we are. It is those little pieces of our history that play a role in who we are today and keep us from becoming who we are destined to be.

Oh satan is coy, it’s true. He throws accusations against our souls that we may have already been questioning about ourselves, to rock us off the Solid Rock of God’s truth concerning us.

Everyday, dozens of messages are being sent to us through all kinds of sources. The enemy has an agenda. He wants to make us think we are powerless, hopeless, and can do very little to change things.

But he’s wrong.

Since your childhood, satan has spent a great deal of his time trying to convince you that you are nothing and never will be anything. He has tried to make you feel like there’s something really wrong with you–you know, deep down inside–something that disqualifies you from the abundant life Jesus has promised you, that He’s died to give you.

Has he tried to make you feel that you are too old? Too young? Too overweight? Too ugly? Too Skinny? Stupid? Poor? A woman? Insecure? Or as Chloe liked to put it, has he tried to tell you that you are weird? He keeps sending the message that we are not what we are supposed to be.

Well, God says, “IT’S TIME TO REBEL AGAINST THE LIES OF THE ENEMY”–every one of them!

Satan is a liar, right? So, should we be looking to find the truth about who we are in the mouth of a liar? No. God’s words are truth and life. Only He loves us enough to view us correctly; only He sees clearly our capabilities and the great destiny He has in store for us.

I Can Fly!

Many years ago I had a vision that I was in a house full of demons. They chased me all around the house, tormenting me with their accusations against me. I tried to get away from them; I just wanted them to leave me alone. But they were incessant. Like a drippy faucet, they kept coming back with more and more lies to try and rip at my mind with their nasty opinions of who I was and what I was incapable of.

I ran from them all over the house, frightened and crying. I felt hopeless to get away from them, tormented by their incessant accusations against me. I wanted it to stop.

I was running around the house as they all chased me. I turned and darted as fast as I could in a struggle to get away from them. Suddenly, as I turned slightly toward one of them, I saw it. Yeah, it was just a small flicker in one of their eyes at first, but I saw it. I saw fear in his ugly, little eyes.

I turned toward them and looked at them all. It was clear they were trying to hide it from me. They wanted to be the ones in control, and yet they were afraid of me.

I turned and planted myself in front of them and called their bluff. “Wait!” I said, “You’re afraid of me, aren’t you?”

“No!” they said.

They tried to hold their ground, but it was too late. I had seen the fear in their eyes.

I thought, “What are they afraid of?” Well, it wasn’t me, of course. They were afraid of what was in me. They had tormented me and tried to convince me they had all the power. But when I saw that look in their eyes, I knew they were the ones who were truly afraid.

They tormented me to keep me from realizing my true power–the power I have as a child of God.

When I saw the fear sweeping over them, I knew then that they couldn’t stop me. I walked right through them and headed straight for the door. I was getting out of that house.

It was my time to escape from the house of lies satan had built for me, and I was going for it. They were no match for me as I walked right through them; they had to move out of my way. I walked out the door of that house and kept on walking.

Yet, they followed me as I walked steadily away from them and that horrible old house of my past. They weren’t standing in my way–now all they could do was follow me. They couldn’t stop me, and they knew it, but they could still try to stop me with their lies.

They kept up quite a little onslaught of continual disapproval of everything I did. They tried in utter desperation to make me believe their stupid lies, but I kept walking.

Suddenly, my Father spoke to my heart and said, “Honey, you can fly!”

“What God? I can fly?” I thought. And then I knew deep down in my spirit I was truly destined to fly. I knew that God wanted me to fly; it was His will for me to do the impossible. So I decided to try…

I flew, at first just a few feet above the ground with the demons following still, but I was flying!

God told me I could, and He was right. I had the ability to fly all along and they knew it. That’s why they were so afraid of me. They were afraid that someday I would find out that I could fly, and I would soar.

I flew above them struggling to fly away from them as they continued to throw up accusations of fear and doubt at me.

“You can’t fly, you know,” they would say. “No, really you can’t fly!” they would shout. As I heard their lies, I felt myself slip down towards them slightly, losing an inch or two of altitude I’d gained, putting me closer to their grasp.

Then I heard God speak again to me, “But Victoria, you are flying.”

“Oh, yeah,” I thought, “Duh, I am flying.” So I was doing what they said I couldn’t do.

I knew as long as I stayed close to the ground they could throw their lies up at me. Suddenly, God said, “Fly higher.”

That’s when I felt a surge of true God-given faith! “I could fly higher,” I realized.

I looked at those poor, forlorn creatures and began to smile. I could fly higher, out of their reach, away from them. “You can’t touch this,” I thought with a grin. And then I cast a gaze toward the sky, the big wide-open beautiful sky, and then I knew I was truly free. I could soar.

Affirm Yourself!

Have you felt the sting of rejection? Do you desire acceptance? Affirmation? Do you feel desperate for approval from someone but aren’t getting it?

God says, “Affirm yourself!” Stir yourself up in God and rebel against the lies the enemy has thrown at you. It is time to rebel against the lies and accusations of the enemy and the harmful opinions of those who did not love you.

Rip off the labels Satan has plastered all over you and laugh at him…yeah, that’s right, laugh at him. Laugh at him, because everything he’s said about you is a lie, which means the opposite is true.

He’s the one who’s terrified of YOU!

You’re not incompetent! He’s just a liar.

You are not disqualified! He’s just a liar.

You can do all things through Christ who is with you and is strengthening you, and yes, satan is a liar.

Satan has lied to you, but why? Why would he bother with you, trying to discredit you? What is he so afraid of? Well, maybe it’s this–maybe you can fly!

He knows it’s true, and he’s dreading the day you will realize it. Step into your God-given destiny, and soar out of the devil’s reach. He’s afraid of the day you fly out of his grasp, over his head, and away into your God-given purpose in Christ.

He Knows the Plans

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

Dear Friends, remember we find the truth about who we truly are in God’s Word. It is powerful and will cut through the lies of darkness to free us. Stay in His Word, dear one; it gives peace and life!

Speak the Word of God over your life. Claim it’s power for yourself, and speak life!

Please pray this with me:

In the name of Jesus, I command you, satan, to shut your mouth now! Stop lying to me in Jesus’ name.
God, I ask You to send a spirit of truth to me right now to repel the lies of darkness. Flood my mind with Your peace, love, and joy. Loose off me the chains of rejection, self-hatred and condemnation. Speak Your truth deep into my spirit and help me to soar out of reach of the enemy. Dear Lord, help me to see myself the way You do and fulfill my destiny in You.

In Jesus’ name, amen!

In Him,

Victoria Boyson
Speaking Life Ministries
Email: victoria@boyson.org

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What are some of the lies that you need to reject? Where does God’s truth collide with what you have believed about God, yourself, and others? I’ve discovered a bunch in my life. Lies that have kept me from receiving all that God has for me. Lies that keep me striving for acceptance, and favor, and accomplishments, and righteousness.

I’ll end this with one of them…

Have you ever prayed for strength? I sure have. In fact, it was probably a part of every one of my prayers for several years. Why did I pray for strength? Well that’s easy—I often feel weak, unworthy, overwhelmed, incapable. Seems like that’s a good thing to pray for when I feel that way… or is it?

When I pray for God to give me strength, where is my focus? On me! But God wants my focus to be on HimHe is my strength.

I found that my prayers for strength sounded strange when I thought of John the Baptist’s words about Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less.(John 3:30) and Jesus’ words to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9a)

What is the lie I must reject that is hidden in my prayer for strength? It is this: I am weak, unworthy, and incapable.

What is the truth I must believe? It is this: I have Christ’s strength because he lives in me.

How can this truth affect the way I see my limitations? I’ll let Paul answer for me:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9b)

I can do everything through him [Jesus] who gives me strength. (Philip. 4:13)

Now that’s Good News!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug

Journey to Oz–2

June 1, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

How cool is this?!?

I don’t know about you, but I read and reread your comments several times. And I noticed some themes developing. Words like faith, believe, truth, weakness, Holy Spirit, God in me, trust

As I’ve pondered, I keep coming back to what Sandra said, “I determined that I need to reprogram my brain.” I’m not an expert in psychology, but I do believe that the brain is the starting point for a discussion of courage. Someone really smart once said something like “We are as we think” (or “As we think, so we are”). I believe that’s true.[1]

In Romans 12, Paul says:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Through Paul, God is talking about the fact that his people will have “reprogrammed brains”.

So, how in the world do we reprogram our brains? Good question, isn’t it? I know that there are a lot of quick answers to this—answers we’ve learned in church… Stuff like—read the Bible, go to church, take a class, serve in a ministry, go on a missions trip, pray.

These are good. I like them. However, I think they are premature answers at this point. Jumping ahead to actions doesn’t always lead to a “renewing of the mind”. It may seem good—feel right—but it doesn’t get to the root issue of what you believe deep down.

So here’s what I propose. I propose that the first step in renewing your mind is this:


B
ELIEVE THE TRUTH

What does this mean? It means that you actually believe what the Bible says. This seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? But it’s not as easy as we might pretend it is. Over the last 18 months, I have been challenged to really believe what God says—and it is often times different than I had thought in the past.

Let me explain what I mean. I wrote last week that I often feel “brainless, heartless, and gutless.” I then take those feelings and conclude that I am “brainless, heartless, and gutless” (can you relate?). I begin to believe that is my identity.

When I see myself this way, I feel like I must remedy these shortcomings—I must change my identity— by changing the things I do. So I get busy. I work on gaining knowledge, being loving, and doing brave things. Sometimes I feel like I’m making progress… But most of the time, I find myself back where I started. More tired, more discouraged than I was before (in fact, I usually feel more brainless, heartless, and gutless!”).

Here’s the problem with this strategy: I am focused on the wrong thing. I was focused on what I do rather than who I am. The issue isn’t actions, it is identity.

And the TRUTH—if I really dare to believe it—is that I have a new identity. Paul talks about this a lot…

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jesus actually “lives in me” and I’m “in Christ” and I’m “a new creation”. In fact, because I’m in Christ and he’s in me, I actually have his brain, his heart, and his courage! I don’t renew my mind– I get Jesus’! I don’t make myself a new creation, God does!

The question is: Do I believe this?… Do you believe this?

If you answered “yes” then that opens the door the some incredible and amazing truth you will be thrilled to discover. Truth that will launch us into courage like never before.


Questions to ponder (or ignore—that’s cool too):

1) What do you think it means to be “in Christ” or to have Christ “live in you”

2) How are you a “new creation”? What has changed? What hasn’t?

3) Are there things in the Bible about your identity that you find hard to believe? What? Why?

4) What are some things you thought were true, but have changed your mind about?


This idea of “truth” is vital—but don’t take my word for it. Jesus said that “the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Probably means that this is a good place to start…

 

Grace and peace,

Doug


[1] That reminds me of the best high school yearbook entry I’ve ever seen—you know, the places where the seniors can write something profound or meaningful under their picture. In my brother’s yearbook, Dennis Pagliangna (I have no clue how to write his name) had this:

To be is to do. (Aristotle)

To do is to be (Plato)

To be do be do. (Sinatra)