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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Lets play a quick game of "Have You Ever". Basically, in my version... if you have done one of these things then I want you to draw a red X on a piece of paper. Ready? Lets try it!

Have you ever... known you were wrong but not apologized?
Have you ever... done something nice just to get noticed for it?
Have you ever... compared yourself to other people to make yourself feel better?
Have you ever... decided that you can't learn anything from one of your leaders/teachers?
Have you ever... spent an entire conversation talking only about you without asking about the other person?
Have you ever... decided you were too good or to much "above" someone to learn from them?
Have you ever... been defensive when you receive criticism?
Have you ever... wanted someone to serve you constantly or expected to be served?
Have you ever... thought you were better than someone?
Have you ever... thought someone who messed up deserved whatever happened to them?
Have you ever... thought everyone else can mess up but you cant?
Have you ever... tried to justify why you are sinning?
Have you ever... took full credit for something that was a team effort?
Have you ever... stopped depending on God and started depending on yourself?
Have you ever... said "God can forgive me, but I can't forgive myself"?
Have you ever... used someone else's sin to justify your own?
Have you ever... put someone down for their sin?
Have you ever... been easily offended?
Have you ever... demanded to be the center of attention?
Have you ever... done something that should be to honor God just so others would see you're good at it?
Have you ever... been unwilling to serve or do something for someone else?
Have you ever... thought that you don't need God to accomplish something?
Have you ever... thought of yourself first?
Have you ever... had to top someone just because you couldn't let someone be better than you?
Have you ever... stolen someone's spot light because you didn't want to admit they were good at something you arent?

Ok...Do you have your red X's now? But what do they mean? What do all those questions have to do with saving yourself from a wreck? Well they all have a basic reason behind them that you may or may not have picked up on. Pride. Yep, all the reasons you have an X written down, that's pride. Big, bold, and red. Surprise! You have pride issues! And here's something you may have expected... so do I! And it is not good.

Basically pride is thinking of yourself as greater than everything. Yep, even God. See why I say its not good? Here are some Biblical reasons why.

In Obadiah God is displeased with the pride He sees in the city of Edom and so He responds with "The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, "Who will bring me down to the ground?" Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set amount the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the Lord." (Obadiah 1:3-4) From these verses I want you to see and start to understand just how much God dislikes pride. Pride is deceiving it creates a false sense of security and confidence while covering up all the sin, hurt, and brokenness of the person. Instead of finding full forgiveness in God, people say they can't be forgiven or can't forgive themselves. This causes a lot of emotional problems and a feeling of separation between you and God. Instead of allowing others to lead or be the center of attention at appropriate times, people take over everything and have to be in the spot light. This leads to strained relationships and takes God's right to the best of your abilities and places the glory back on you. Comparing yourself to others either leads to a false sense of being better than someone, or a false sense of being worth nothing. Both are only looking at your opinion of yourself and saying that God's isn't most important. Being unwilling to learn from others whether older, younger, or the same age as you leads to ignorance and arrogance. God values knowledge about Him. There are many many more, but you can see how pride affects so many aspects of life and  how easily some of them go unchecked or un-noticed.

In Psalm David talks many times about pride and how it pulls people away from God.
Psalm 10:4 "In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, 'There is no God'."
Psalm 31:18 "Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt."
Psalm 31:23 "Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride."
David was considered a man after God's own heart. And he detested prideful people and showed again and again in his teachings and writings that God will punish the prideful.

Solomon is considered to be the wisest man to live. God poured His wisdom out onto Solomon. In Solomon's Proverbs, he shows why pride is not something God values and also what God seeks to find in His people.
Proverbs 8:13 "The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate." (Ummm kay God doesnt just dislike pride, he calls it evil and hates it.)
11:2 "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom."
16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
29:23 "One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor."

Back to Psalm for a sec to contrast some of the pride with what God desires.
Psalm 149:4 "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation."
God values humbleness and humility.
Matthew 23:12 says, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
When we live in pride we are setting ourselves away from God and who He is. Since God detests pride, He is not prideful. So what is He? He is humble. God could be a huge show off and make us all believe in Him, but instead He chose to be humble and to come to save us by becoming one of us. How much more humble could He be than becoming one of His own creation? "And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:8. To be walking with God in a proper relationship and to be honestly and fully seeking to become more like Him, we need to address our pride. We need to be willing to become humble enough to follow Him to the cross.

We must remember that God is love. And pride has no part in love. It cannot fit into a relationship with humans or with God. If we truly desire to live for and to love Him, we cannot have pride. If we want to reflect Him in our relationships and friendships, we cannot be prideful.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." (1 Corinthians 13:4) God is love. God cannot be proud. We are called to model Him in our lives. We really need to work on our pride.

I pray that this will make you think, and help you to grow closer to Him.

God bless,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oh No! A Big Decision! What Do I Do?!?!

Hey! So I'm back! :) I know I was away for some time, school has been slightly chaotic lately. Anyways I have some big choices to make in my life soon. I have to figure out where I want to go in the future and such. Its a scary prospect, thinking that my choices now affect so much of my life for the future. The decisions I make now will change and mold how I want my future to look. So how am I to know what to choose? How do I make a well informed choice that will glorify God? How can I make the wisest choice possible with the knowledge I am given? Well... I'm going to talk a bit about how I've been learning is the right way (smart way) to make a well informed wise decision about something big in life. Whether its to do with work, school, relationships, or anything that affects large parts of your life, there needs to be a lot of thought put into it before you do something. Rushed decisions don't tend to end very well. So here are some of the ways I have learned to help me make the "right" decision.

Probably the most important thing to keep in mind is that glorifying God is the main goal in this! It is not "what will be the easiest way to make the most money" or "What is the fastest way to be done school" or "How can my girlfriend/boyfriend make me feel and look good and if they cant why should I keep them around" or "If I dump this person then it will make life so much easier for me". The main goal of any choice you make is what is the best way I can glorify God in this? What is the best way I can live Him out in my choice? If it means that you end up working somewhere you dont get paid a lot but you influence many lives for God then would it be worth it? If it means taking the 10 years and becoming a Dr would you do it? If it means thinking of your boyfriend/girlfriend first would you be willing to? Remember, in all choices glorifying God is your main objective. 1st Corinthians 10:31 " So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

A huge thing is before you react to something or make your choice, figure out what was influencing you to think that way? Where are your influences coming from and are they from? Are the things influencing you trust worthy? Are they God honoring things? Most people dont stop to think about why they are thinking something, they just react. So I highly encourage you to stop and think for a minute about what influences your thinking about relationships? What influences your thinking about school? What influences your thinking about work? Are the things influencing you good things?

This is actually huge when it comes to who your friends are. If you look at your closes friends and the people you spend the most time talking to and hanging out with, would you be okay being like them? Those who are closest to you are the people who influence your thinking the most. Be aware of that when you have major life choices to make. Do you want to end up like the people you surround yourself with? Will ending up like that glorify God?

After you think of this, then spend some time digging into God's word, praying, and spending quiet time listening. Seek His heart through His words. After you spent time praying and seeking God, you should have some idea of what to choose. With this in mind... now we come to one of the huge steps that I believe is super important. Proverbs 12:15 says, "The way of a fool seems right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." At this point I highly highly encourage you to seek counsel from others. But be careful with who you ask. From my experiences in my short life... I have learned that people my age tend to be just as lost as me. People younger than me tend not to be in the same boat quite yet. So while asking their opinions may be good, be careful of their advice. It may not be based on the wisdom that comes only from experience. Instead, seek advice from people older than you. This may sound crazy but ask your parents for their advice! Sit down with your pastor and ask them what they think of it. If you have an older mentor, ask them. Seek advice from multiple people who have the life experience, who lead Godly lives, and who know you well enough to give you honest opinions. Proverbs 11:14 states, "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety." If what they say goes with what you were thinking, then you are quite possibly headed in the right direction, but if they do not agree with what you were thinking, then take their words seriously and wait and pray more. Have them pray with you about it and come back after a while and talk about it again. Don't just brush aside the advice that you are given, but weigh it carefully. Remember that your main objective is to glorify God.

God says in Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." He will instruct you and teach you. He will counsel you on what to do. But you must first seek Him. Hopefully what I have said will help you be able to do that with clarity and purpose.

May God bless you!

In His Hands,