Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Self-Pity Christian

One of the things that I absolutely dislike is the attitude of self-pity. The "woe is me" garbage induced by life not being all rainbows and unicorns or milkshakes and fries(to each their own). As former queen of self-pity, I know all too well what it's like to sit around sulking and complaining when things don't go your way. But I know I wasn't the only one. So many are infected with this disease and it permeates the mind, releasing this pungent odor stained with bitterness, negativity, and misery in our attitude and behavior. The problem with this stench is that it doesn't go away very easily and can leave an imprint on anyone it comes into contact with. In order to treat this malady, we have to understand self-pity for what it really is.

Oswald Chambers said in one of his devotionals from his book, My Utmost For His Highest, that self-pity is satanic. When we stop to think about it, he couldn't be further from the truth! Self-pity is truly satanic because we make the focus entirely about ourselves when we feel mistreated, lonely, inadequate, and feeling sorry for ourselves in any way or form when we don't get our way. It is a passive-aggressive form of pride that steals trust and glory in the LORD and places them on ourselves. Anytime our focus on the LORD gets taken away, it does absolutely more harm than good. It leaves us feeling more bitter, depressed, unthankful, and pessimistic.

The reason it's so difficult to combat is because self-pity comes naturally to all of us. We're all prone to having pity parties thanks to our human sin nature. It takes a lot more effort to overcome it than to indulge in it. So how do we overcome this vile, putrid smell passing through our nostrils? Focus on the Lord and what He has done for us instead.

By asking God to increase awareness of our sinful nature and surrendering ourselves-thoughts, feelings, and attitudes to the Cross and letting Him replace them with His nature-mindset and attitude, we gain more awareness of Christ within us and desire to serve and obey Him. We mustn't let ourselves be deceived into thinking that we don't need Christ in all areas of our lives. That our own common sense and logic is sufficient. It's not. We are rotten and defiled to the very core, and our logic and wisdom no matter how superficial or profound it is, it is terribly imperfect and finite compared to the perfect wisdom of God. To assume that our thinking is greater than God's shows mere arrogance and disbelief.

Let's see what the Bible says about arrogance and unbelief.

"Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe."-Proverbs 28:26

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."-Hebrews 11:6

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."-James 4:6

God won't cater to our pity pouts when we don't get our way. So don't expect Him to be manipulated by your "poor me" excuses as an attempt to get what you want. God's not stupid. He sees right through it. Throw your petty temper tantrums all you want, it won't get you anywhere except a miserable attitude. It's your choice to stay in that rut. Just remember the consequences it'll have in the long run should you choose to stay there.

Anytime you are tempted to run in the direction of self-pity, turn to the Word of God and rebuke the selfishness and idolatry self-pity carries. An older and mature woman of God suggested reading 1 Peter and chapters 3 and 4 of Philippians when we start slipping into the pity party mode. If you're wise and willing, you'll greatly benefit from it. If not, scroll back to the top of this post and read it again. :)

"God must increase, but I must decrease."-John 3:30

Friday, June 23, 2017

Feeling Trapped

If you're reading this, then most likely you feel the same way I feel. Or have felt this way at some point. Being stuck in a situation where you have very little to no control over. For me, it was being sheltered by my overprotective parents, namely my mom. I couldn't hang out with my friends outside of school, even on weekends. Whether it was going to the movies with them, the mall, sleepovers, pretty much anywhere. I'm not trying to say it's wrong of them to want to keep me safe. I understood they had good intentions, even if they did appear to go overboard. They just didn't want me to fall under any sort of bad influence. But when it came to my feelings, especially as a teenager, I viewed it as torture. I wasn't rebellious to them, but I didn't handle the situation very wisely either. Instead I kept it all in, despite my friends teasing me about my sheltered life in school, looks of curiosity like I was a strange animal, secret laughters and conversations behind my back, maybe you can't relate or understand, but it wasn't pleasant.

I felt like it didn't matter what I tried or could try, because it wasn't going to change my parents mind regardless. I gave up and threw pity parties. It was the easiest way I knew how to handle the situation. Whine, cry, and complain passively. And in ways I still do that. When I was in college, I actually thought I'd have more freedom to hang out with whomever, but it wasn't the case at all. I still wasn't allowed to drive even though I have a license, I couldn't move out and get a job while attending school because of my limitations and failings. My parents know me well enough to realize there's a lot I can't do on my own, so I'm still depending on them.

It's still difficult at times as I look around me and see people having the freedom to hang out with friends, travel, and do other things I'm unable to do. Or overhear a conversation between friends chattering about what they did over the weekend, etc. Questions such as "Why couldn't I be wired differently?" "Why can't I have more freedom to do what I want?"  "Why am I placed here, trapped by circumstances that I can't maneuver?" Appear in my mind. It gets worse when I'm scrolling through social media. Seeing pictures and updates of people having a great time outdoors or with a circle of friends, produces envy, jealousy, and bitterness. It's not as bad as it used to be, but they'll show up time and again.

If you're feeling really trapped beneath obstacles, whatever they are, the only encouragement I can give you is that you're not alone. It doesn't seem that way at times, but you're really not. Perhaps you've heard that so often, you've grown numb to it. When the feelings of "missing out" grabs hold of us, it's almost effortless to feel sorry for ourselves. Self-pity comes naturally to all of us. It takes more effort to look on the bright side of things no matter how dismal life can be. Of course, I'd be dead wrong for saying that my example is the worst kind of suffering on the planet. My petty problems don't even compare to the suffering of others. Yet I won't discount that life isn't fair. Since we live in a sinful world (thanks to Adam and Eve) things are pretty messed up. Though we may not be able to remove our circumstances, we can however choose to overcome the feelings of self-pity and sadness through {counting our blessings} and remembering that our problems are just temporary.

Find a way to keep yourself busy to distract you from the problem. You could take a break from social media and curl up with a good book to read. Or turn on some classical or jazz music and close your eyes as you listen. Serving people through volunteering at church, a food bank, or local hospital is great way to minimize the focus off of your problems. If you don't have reliable transportation or your parents won't let you, consider ways to serve people via internet. Find some Christian forums on the web or start a blog to post Scriptures, devotional readings, sermons, or encouragement.

I consider it a privilege to have the luxury of writing blog posts to share with others for the time being. Despite being stuck at home a lot aside from attending school or working someplace. Just having a positive mindset can make a difference in your attitude. It's something you have to be willing to work on. Otherwise you'll just weep in the corner.

Don't give up and lose hope. Someday as you look back on this, you'll either realize that it wasn't so bad after all, or you'll regret on not making the most of your situations. Hopefully it'll be the former. :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Short Testimony

I didn't grow up in a Christian home environment, my mom doesn't know the Lord and my dad is very lukewarm in his faith, he'll occasionally talk about God but refuses to live out the truth. When I was 14, I had some questions about God and salvation so my dad took me to see his co-worker who's a very devout Christian to answer any questions I had, which I honestly don't remember his replies except for being asked to pray a prayer accepting Jesus into my heart. After praying that, I "felt" like I was saved but I wasn't displaying any fruitful evidence throughout the years, God was more of an afterthought to me and I used Him as a get out of hell free card.

When I went to college I was going through personal life issues and questioning my identity and purpose. I hit rock bottom and blamed it all on God, causing me to "renounce" my faith and live in perpetual sin. I heavily wrestled with God afterwards and He made me realize that I wasn't truly saved since I didn't know what I was doing, so after feeling intense sorrow and disgusted with my sin that He showed me, I repented and recommitted to making Him Lord and Savior of my life.

It's very crucial to understand that praying a simple prayer doesn't save you, neither does relying on your feelings when you pray, it is understanding that you are a sinner separated from God and that His Son Jesus gave His life for you on the cross to reconcile your relationship with Him. By trusting in Jesus Christ alone to save you as a result of His undying love for you and admitting that you are a sinner needing a savior to rescue you from your sins and accepting His Lordship in your life, you become a child of God covered by His grace and enter an exciting, new, ongoing relationship with God now throughout eternity.

It's not going to be easy, but it'll all be worth it as long as you keep your eyes focused on Jesus and living your life to please and serve Him out of reverence, not terror. Find a good, solid, Bible teaching church to help you grow in your faith and walk it out to be a light for others so that they will want to know God too.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."-John 3:16

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."-Ephesians 2:8-9

"It is good and pleasing in God's sight, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all."-1 Timothy 2:4-5

If you'd like to read more of my testimony in depth, click on this link: It Will Get Better+Testimony

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Identity In Christ+Armor Of God

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." -1 Peter 5:8.

Our adversary the devil is on the prowl attacking Christians left and right. He will do all he can to get you to doubt God’s love for you, his tactic is to destroy you so that you won’t make a difference in God's kingdom. One of his most common methods is attacking your worth and identity. BUT, that’s only if you allow him. So many Christians are struggling to have a grasp on their identity and value. We allow circumstances, people's opinions, and our struggles define our worth. In order to fight off the enemy's schemes, we MUST know what the Word says about who we are in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 6:10-17 talks about putting on the armor of God. Before we can do that however, we have to be confident and secure in who we are in Christ first. You can’t jump right into calculus without first learning the basics of adding, subtracting, multiplication and division. That’s exactly how this principle works too. You can’t put on God’s armor without having a solid foundation in Christ. It won’t work. You’ll get pulverized if you try to. Every time you hear or are tempted to believe a lie contrary to the Word, take it captive and make it submit to Christ(2 Corinthians 10:5). Speak it out loud or write it in a journal. DO NOT rely on what your "feelings" tell you. They can be very misleading.(Jeremiah 17:9) My prayer for you is that you will consistently work on building a habit of understanding and growing in the knowledge of Jesus and let Him define your identity and help others do the same. Here are some freebies to help with that.

Embrace who you are and wear God's armor. The battle has just begun.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Building Christ-like Character

In addition to my previous posts, Soaking In God's Word and Abiding In Christ, I want to focus briefly on building character traits that every person who identities as a Christ follower should exhibit in their daily lives.

As Christians, we are called to be an example to everyone around us. Our families, friends, neighbors, and strangers we encounter whether it's at school, the gas station, grocery store, shopping centers, library etc. To witness God's love as a bright, shining light in this dark, sinful world. 

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."-Matthew 5:14-16

But before we can be a beacon to others, we have to examine our lives first. As sinful humans by nature, we're constantly waging war with the Holy Spirit. "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do."-Galatians 5:17

If we truly claim to be born again children of God, then we should desire to do His perfect will, but more than that, actually commit to living it out. If we really love God, our willingness to obey should overpower any resistance our flesh has with His perfect plans. The problem however is that we're not spending enough time with God like we desperately should. Instead we allow ourselves to succumb to the vast and irresistible temptations of our human nature.

Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

I don't know how this Scripture can get anymore clearer than that. If we're serious about making changes to please God out of reverence, not obligation, we have to renew our minds. Where our mind is, our actions follow. It's that simple.

What are the natural inclinations of the fleshly body? Selfishness, greed, lust, impurity, fornication, pride, idolatry, envy, strife, bitterness, debauchery (Mark 7:20-23, Colossians 3:5).

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."-Galatians 5:22-23

So there you have it. Living out the fruits of the Spirit takes intentionality, effort, and persistence. A seed doesn't plant without being watered and absorbed by sunlight. The best teacher and role model to learn from is Jesus. He not only taught how to live but He also lived it out. As we read more about Him in the Word, we'll have a better understanding of how to live like Him. When we strive to be more like Christ every day, our lives will naturally mirror those characteristics in abundance. (Philippians 3:7-11, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 3:2)

I found this lovely chart that serves as an excellent guide to build and foster character qualities in Christ. This chart has 49 Christ-like attributes. Take one attribute to focus on each month and implement ways to live it out for that month. I think it's best to discuss this in a group. Or with a mentor/accountability partner. It can also be done individually. But by no means should you neglect prayer and faithful devotions in the Word. May we too strive to demonstrate the love and humility Christ lived while we still have time left on earth.

You can view the chart {here}

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Abiding In Christ

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."-John 15:1-5

A girl asked me what it means to abide in Christ and what that looks like in our lives.

And I told her that to me, abide means to dwell in His presence through filling our minds with His Word, trusting Him, and letting Him transform our hearts to be more like His. It's a continual act of surrendering ourselves to Him on a daily basis.

The more we remain firmly rooted and established in Christ (Ephesians 3:14-19; Colossians 2:7) by saturating ourselves in His Word (Psalm 1:2-3; Psalm 119:15-16) the more we reflect His Christlike nature through our words and actions.

Thought this was something good to ponder on.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Soaking In God's Word

I won't lie. When it comes to doing my daily devotions in the Word, I don't always commit to it. I'm going through the Gospel of Luke right now, and more than once, I'll get distracted by other things and not "feel" like continuing where I left off. Then when I realize that I neglected to read the Bible, I'll let guilt consume me and put my Bible away. Honestly, you will have those moments where you just really don't want to spend time in God's Word. But if you don't ever read and study it, you won't grow spiritually and instead be drifting backwards. Thus, leaving you unfulfilled and slowly be unproductive in bearing fruit for God's kingdom. In order to maintain consistent fruit in your life, one must stay hidden in the Word.

As I was tempted to throw in the towel again, I shook off my unwillingness and read a portion of the Psalms and Proverbs. Using highlighters and colored pencils to mark certain words and a pencil to underline and circle phrases that jumped out at me. It was a beautiful time of soaking in the amazing truths I learned. I felt rejuvenated and vigorous. :D

My suggestion to you if you're struggling to stay in God's Word is to read the Psalms or Proverbs. Study and meditate on the beautiful prayers or wisdom gleaned through those passages. Personalize them into prayers or poetry. Maybe even a prayer/poem. James is another good place to start. But to each their own. Just remember when you decide to quit, you're admitting defeat to the devil. NEVER do that. Fight back. Lives are literally at stake when we don't. Think about that.