Two significant lies about significance, part 1

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There are at least two lies Satan will whisper in your ear about your significance.

LIE #1: You’re not important.

There are 7 billion people in the world (give or take a few several handfuls of millions).

What makes you special? You aren’t significant, especially compared to that significant person over there.

Sometimes we’re able to shut down such thoughts…other times, we’re crushed. We follow the road most traveled. Destination, self-pity.

The answer to Lie #1 rests securely in your identity.

That you’ve been created in the image of God. You and every person you meet are image bearers of God. “We are God’s workmanship,” wrote the Apostle Paul to some folks in the 1st century struggling with identity.

Just like art curators and experts identify works of art based on certain characteristics or styles of an artist, you are identified as this remarkable work of God because you bear His image. You have the capacity to think and feel and love and imagine possibilities of what could be.

King David captures this beautifully in Psalm 139.13-14

For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.

I know. It should say “fearfully and wonderfully…” You start using fearfully in everyday conversation and I’ll change it.

For now, though, you are awe-inspiring, worthy of reverence, distinct, distinguished, set apart. Just how you felt after your last screw up, right?

Think about the fact that the Spirit of the living God inspired David to write that about you, of all people! You. You are remarkable and wondrous. A work of God.

But sometimes you don’t feel remarkable, do you?

Our failures have a way of reminding us how unremarkable we can be. It’s in those moments we feel this thing called SHAME.

SHAME tells its own lies: (Brené Brown gave a TED talk on this that went viral)

  • Shame says you didn’t just make a mistake. You are a mistake.
  • Shame says you didn’t just fail. You are your failure.

And in those moments when shame or guilt or fear or insecurity crowds in and starts telling you lies, that’s when you have to proclaim these gospel truths:

  • I am a work of God.
  • I am loved by God.

Until you are able to embrace the deep reality that you are loved by God simply for being, you will always struggle to feel significant because your identity is not secure. More than likely you will seek identity in what you do, a responsibility of some kind.

But in God’s economy, identity precedes responsibility.

It’s why God came to Abraham and established a relationship before sending Him out. It’s why God established a relationship with Moses and Israel b/f giving the law.

You have been created by God…You couldn’t be loved by God any more than you are in this very moment. Drink it in.

I’ll post Lie #2 soon enough, so check back. Better yet, subscribe and have each new post sent straight to your inbox.

Set it on fire

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Happy Thanksgiving.

Merry Christmas.

Happy New Year

These are such assumptive holidays and celebrations. After all, what if 2017 mainly represents failed hopes?

What if I look back over the year and the things that burst to the top of my mind with the force of an instant pot gone loco are failures, losses, pain, regrets, and the like? Pardon me if there doesn’t seem to be a lot of Feliz in my Navidad this year.

Oh, and by the way, Happy New Year! Happy New Year? Sure, the hap-hap-happiest New Year ever! I look forward to more of what happened last year. Which, if I’m being honest, amounts to a whole lot of regret.

Why regret? Have I mentioned I didn’t keep my resolutions in 2017? I never lost the 15 pounds (but I did put on 5). I didn’t write on my blog each week like I said. My marriage isn’t any stronger because of my Notebook-esque heart-pursuing, romance inducing practices. I stopped reading ‘thru the Bible in a year’ at Leviticus because Leviticus (I actually made it all the way through this year, but I know the plight of any whose tears left the pages upon pages of temple procedures bonded together forever).

2017 year-in-review: didn’t do it, never started, couldn’t stop, didn’t finish, wish I had, wish I hadn’t…

These thoughts are fresh on my mind after preparing for our church’s Christmas Eve service this year. Several people in my congregation faced loss or are staring it in the face in 2018. Some of our families had one less seat filled at Thanksgiving dinner. There were fewer presents under the Christmas tree and an indescribable fullness missing from the conversation. When one voice is lost, we all lose a piece of our own as well.

No matter what kind of year you may have had in 2017, here comes 2018 like a bat out of Helsinki. She’s inviting you in. Will you go reluctantly, expectantly, brazenly, cautiously?

The Apostle Paul was a guy who’d had highs and lows like none other. If you’re skeptical, read some of 2 Corinthians 11. But in spite of peaks and valleys and the in-between, he had this to say:

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore, let all of us who are mature think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you … (CSB)

There’s a level of maturity required to leave the past in the past and press on to the future. Erwin McManus devotes a couple of chapters in his new book to the idea of setting your past on fire. You make an altar of those things, good or bad, and light it up as you walk in slow motion toward the future.

It doesn’t mean you don’t remember people or forsake experiences. But there comes a time for us all to let go of whatever is hindering us. That could be a failed weight loss goal. But it might also be the loss of a loved one. A cancer diagnosis (saw too many of those in my circles in 2017). A dream job that has become a nightmare.

I don’t know what comes to your mind when you think of what (or who) you’d like to leave behind in 2017. For me, there are a few “didn’t do its” I’d like to just fuhgeddaboutit.

  • I didn’t write a blog with consistency. And I have excuses. Good ones. But they’re excuses. Goal fail.
  • I didn’t get 9-pack abs. My excuse? I eat too much. Oh food. I need you. I want you.  Goal fail.
  • I didn’t become more of the husband I want to be. Excuse, you ask? Pride…I chose to honor me instead of she. Goal fail.

There are more goal fail bullet points seared into my brain, but I’m trying to leave them behind for crying out loud.

How about you?

What must you leave behind in order to forge ahead into a brighter tomorrow? It’s that thought, that voice, that experience, that failure that’s weighing you down like Fat Albert on a bobsled team.

You can’t leave your cancer behind…it’s going with you. But perhaps there’s a new level of faith or an attitude you’d like to invite in. No amount of optimism will bring your loved one back to life…but what if you take that loss and channel it into choosing a fuller life this year in some capacity?

Within the realm of what you can control, what decisions will you make so that you aren’t sitting in the same seat on the regret bus come December 30, 2018?

What behaviors have to change? What habits have to be broken? How much pain and discomfort are you willing to endure in order to see growth or healing?

I wish I could invite you to cyber slap me if you find out I’m not following through on what I’m setting out to do and be in 2018. But I do plan on having better accountability and invite you to do the same wherever you are.

Share your goals and aspirations with people who are for you and love you and, even in the South, will tell you the stank nasty truth when necessary.

So, here’s you to 2017! The altar is set. The match is lit. Toss on 3.

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