Archive | April 2013

The Order part 2

 

What Stands Against Us? (continued)

The Cycle of Self-Doubt

I have written on this topic before, but because I continue to struggle with it, and because many people close to me struggle with it, I will write on it some more.  We are very literally our own worst enemies when it comes to doubting ourselves and holding ourselves back. Self-doubt works in a cycle and can completely shut down any potential for growth and productivity in our practical and spiritual lives. It is important to understand the cycle, so that you can identify it when it begins and stop it. The origins of the self-doubt can be endless and very personal. Because they are so individualized it’s impossible to cover that here, but we each have a pretty good idea where our own self-doubt stems from. Keep in mind, though, that just because the origin of the doubt is real, does not mean the doubt itself is valid or legitimate. If your father mocked you as a child for being chubby, it does not mean you really are less worthy as an individual. If your boss constantly berates you for incompetence, does it really mean you are in fact incompetent? Your true self is defined by your relationship with Christ. If you want to see your true self, you find it in prayer and in scripture. 1 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The scripture is literally a mirror that will reflect back our true self. If there are changes that  need to be made you will be informed of those in prayer, in meditation, in scripture, not in hateful criticism from your boss, spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, co- worker or neighbor.

The cycle of self-doubt happens in four parts.

  1. Failure- Failure can be either real or projected. You need to know the difference. Real failure is when you attempt something and fall short of your goal. This is crushing and can begin the cycle of self-doubt. But real failure is good for us because it is a learning opportunity. You do not wallow in your failure, you learn from it. Therefore, it becomes a blessing. Projected failure is NOT a blessing. Projected failure is when SOMEONE ELSE makes you FEEL like a failure over something that you have no control over.  But this criticism, this unfounded, misinformed, ridiculous criticism can still make a person spend years doubting themselves. The same goes for all kinds of issues that are perhaps out of your control such as your size, physical appearance, the family you come from, physical limitations, illness. You absolutely must learn to discern between a real failure and failure that someone is projecting onto you. Learn a lesson from real failure. Dismiss projected failure as a character flaw in the person who is projecting it onto you.
  2. Defeat- When we begin to sense failure (whether real or projected) we begin to feel defeat. Defeat is disappointment that we do not plan to get over. We will not learn a lesson from this real failure. We will believe in the projected failure that others are slinging at us. Defeat is irrational and un-realistic. When you enter this state of mind you begin to believe things about yourself that have no scriptural basis. You begin to believe unrealistically negative things about yourself and the world in general.
  3. Apathy- After defeat comes a sense of apathy. Apathy means, “Absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.” You simply do not care. Apathy leads to an attitude of doing the bare minimum, because a bare minimum of effort equals a bare minimum of failure and defeat. The less you attempt the less you can fail at.
  4. Continued Failure- The less you attempt the more you will feel and perceive yourself as a failure.

The cycle of self-doubt can be stopped at any level when we use the word of God to halt it in its tracks. If you have actually failed at something: learn a lesson from it and try again. If someone is projecting failure on you, declare as the apostle Paul did, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Do not let anyone belittle God’s marvelous creation in you. Dismiss unfounded projected failure. If you have become apathetic, release it in repentance before God, because it is sin. With God all things are still possible.

Next time we’ll look at the curse of modern man that stands against all of us in one form or another: laziness! Think you don’t have a problem with laziness? You’ll be surprised the different forms laziness can manifest itself.

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The Order part 1

What Stands Against Us?

Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.

This will be the first of a series of articles entitled, “The Order.” Specifically, these articles will be dealing with “the order” for our lives; how to order all the different elements of our daily lives into a seamless pattern of service and worship that glorifies our Father and ministers unto others. How can we keep our minds and activities from running in twenty directions at once? Are we really accomplishing anything worthwhile, when we try to “do it all”? Are we even capable of doing everything? Who decides what “everything” is anyway? Was it God or man that has created the list of obligations we all feel hanging over our heads each morning? And while we are running around trying to be everything to everyone, are we being the important things to the important people? I in no way consider myself an expert on this topic. If anything, I am a stumbling student like everyone else. I just want to share the few things the Lord began showing me back in November. Keep in mind, though, that even the few rays of light I have seen on this subject, still allude me on most days. And I find myself still running in circles, working very hard and accomplishing very little that can be counted worthy at the end of the day.

I want to begin by looking at Col 2:14 and trying to understand what lies against us. We all have an idea of who we want to be and then the reality of who we really are. For me, the two people are hardly similar. What is it that prevents us from being that person we dream of being? What stands against us? What holds us back? Part of the answer is in Col 2:14 and specifically in the word “ordinance.”

Many years ago, I learned an important rule: never assume you know the true meaning of a word before you’ve looked it up. Preferably, before you’ve looked it up in the Webster’s 1828. Often we assume a word means whatever the contaminated usage is for it in our own decade. But for an author’s writing to ring true in our minds, we need to understand what words meant to the author. If an author is not of our own time, it can sometimes be difficult to fully understand and appreciate their meaning. This is most true with the writers of the Bible, and the translators of the King James Version. Now admittedly, there was over 200 years between the authorization of the King James Bible and Webster’s 1828 masterpiece, but sometimes we just have to get as close as we can. Closer is always better.

So, when I read Col 2:14 back in November, the word that jumped out at me was ordinance. “Ordinance- a rule established by authority, a permanent rule of action.” A permanent rule of action. A permanent rule of action. And one more time, a permanent rule of action. Sometimes to help myself better understand a verse, I will paraphrase word meanings to clarify it to myself. “Blotting out the handwriting of permanent rules of action that were against us, which were contrary to us and took them out of the way nailing them to His cross.” Permanent rules of action are simply the things we do, the negative things we do, and do, and do and then do again that hinder the Spirit of God from molding us into our true self.  Are there permanent rules of action in your life that hold you back from becoming your true self? Your true self is you in the perfect will of God. You completely centered and aligned to the leading of the Holy Spirit. You, wasting no time or energy on tasks, people, hobbies or careers that lie outside of God’s plan for you. You, gushing forth the love of God toward others, and soaking up and receiving the love of God from others. You, boldly pursuing the dreams that God put in your heart! Do you live life as your true self? If not, what “ordinances” what permanent rules of action, negative action, do you allow to stand against you?

In the next article we will look at some of the most common ordinances that stand against us.

Priorities

Priorities Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.

My life has a funny way of changing from really slow and boring to entirely overloaded and crazy in the blink of an eye. And I usually cannot pinpoint exactly where the change took place. All I know is one day I’m spending long days on the porch reading while my kids play outside, all the housework is getting done, all the  lessons are completed each day, writing goals get accomplished, I’m even working out regularly. Then wham! Next thing I know, I zipping and zooming to places where lay obligations to things. Every day of the week holds some “destination” that I must arrive at by a certain time “or else.” I come home to a messy house, grumpy kids, the school work lags, and I lag as well.

It is so difficult to prioritize life. To neatly lay it all out for yourself and say, “This is important. This is where the bulk of my attention will go, regardless of the so called obligations that beckon me from beyond my driveway.” Back in November, the Lord began to help me lay my life out in such a way, to begin to place things in “The Order” in which He would have me place them. It changed the way I looked at my job and myself. I can feel, though, recently that I am letting “The Order” slip. So as a reminder to myself, and hopefully as a help to you as well, I will be posting (in four or five parts) “The Order” as the Lord showed it to me. Life is all about priorities. We all want to be the best at everything, but what if the Lord’s will is for us is to simply be the best at one thing or two things. Is it really possible to devote that much attention to “everything” at the same time? Why can’t we just be “good” or “acceptable” in some areas? Do we put so much pressure on ourselves in so many different areas, that at the end of the day none of those areas really received our genuine attention and creativity?

Look for the upcoming articles on this topic beginning with, “What Lies Against Me?” a look at Col 2:14 and the self-defeating mindsets we put ourselves in which result in failure before we’ve even attempted something!