Friday, January 25, 2013

From the Inside Out

There’s a Christian swear word that most of us would like to avoid being called.  Are you ready for it?  It’s this…Pharisee.

It’s pretty clear in the gospels what Jesus thought about Pharisees.  So I would guess that none of us would want to be seen as one.

But what makes someone a Pharisee?  Is it the believer who focuses on religion, dismissing the need for relationship?  Is it someone who follows a checklist of dos and don’ts?  Is it a law follower?

Well something struck me one day when I was reading Matthew 23:26, “Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

No, Jesus wasn’t given a lesson on the proper way to wash dishes.  He was talking about the inward and outward behaviors and attitudes. 

In other words, instead of trying to focus on the outside, what we do and how we look to others…we need to be more concerned about the inside, our heart.  This has become my “theme” for the year 2013.

I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon but I have sought the Lord for a word, phrase or theme to live by every New Year.  In 2012 the word He clearly gave me was intentional.

This year he led me to a theme, allowing Him to work from the inside out.  You see, there have been behaviors that I’ve tried to change.  Yet the inward stuff wasn’t getting dealt with and so that has been the reason for the lack of progress.

He began to show me that nothing on the outside can change unless the inside is addressed first.  Somehow I have a feeling this isn’t going to be fun.  But it is necessary.

Maybe you can relate…trying to change outward behaviors without asking the Lord to deal with the inner workings of our heart.  If we truly want the outside of our “cups” to be clean, then we need to allow for a cleansing what’s within.

Photo above by jessicafm in Flickr

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Those Broken Places

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door…(Revelation 3:20, ESV). 

We oftentimes think of that moment when the Lord stands before the door of our heart and knocks, giving us the opportunity to let Him in and or keep Him out.  Although this can apply to the moment of salvation, I believe it’s not the only time He knocks on our heart’s door.

There are other moments in which He stands and knocks at the broken places of our heart.  The question becomes, will we allow Him access or not?

You see, we are all broken.  None of us are whole.  If we were, then we wouldn’t need the Lord. 

Yet the places of brokenness vary for each person.  The same is true for the degree of brokenness.

Sometimes what is broke is more visible to the world; we can’t seem to hide it.  But there are other places of brokenness buried so deep, that the only person who knows about it is you.  Not even our closest loved ones know the depth of that pain.

Something I have learned in the past several years of walking with the Lord, is that when it comes to brokenness, we don’t always know its there.  We fail to recognize it and I tend to believe that it’s because the Lord knows we aren’t ready to deal with it.  He may have to fix one area before He can work on the next. 

And oftentimes what happens is we get discouraged.  We feel like no progress is being made.  But you can’t rush the process of healing and restoration.  There will come a time for that and it won’t be here on earth.

I am learning to welcome those broken places of my heart.  Not because I enjoy the process of dealing with those areas—it hurts.  But I know that when those areas are exposed, it means Jesus is standing at the door of that place of brokenness and He is asking, “Will you let me in?” 

It means it’s time to do some work.  He doesn’t knock just to make me aware.  He knocks to piece it all back together.

Photo by CarbonNYC in Flickr

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christian Labels

I don’t care for labels to be thrown around in Christian circles.  Some of the more common ones are “prayer warrior,” “hero,” “leader” and “anointed.” 

It’s not that there is something wrong with those words and the meaning behind them.  In fact, they could very well partly comprise the makings of a believer.  But they aren’t the whole person and that’s where I think the mistake is oftentimes made.

When we are given labels, suddenly there is the pressure to live up to it.  But it can also carry with it a sense of superiority. 

Humility should be the core of a believer.  Yet it’s sometimes tough to live it out, especially when you are receiving accolades from others.

I remember one time a friend telling me that because her son was on the worship team, he had to set a good example.  After all, he was a “leader.”  But he’s no different than the teenager who sits in the pew. 

We all have to set a good example.  Of course, one person’s sphere of influence might be greater than another.  That doesn’t change the fact we are all called to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.

I think it comes down to this…has your life become nothing more than a label?  Do you make decisions based on living up to that?  Or it is about the person of Jesus Christ living inside of you? 

Photo by ilco in stock.xchng