Archives For pride

Pascal said that we all have a “God-shaped blank,” a hole in our souls. Problem is, we try to fill it with anything and everything but God. I’m not just writing of non-believers, but Christians, too. We don’t get a pass just because we’re saved. No, we still carry around “this body of death,” and as such will sometimes often try to cope, to fill the perceived holes in our souls, with things.

Instead of God.

C.S. Lewis (paraphrasing) said we much about with drink and sex–when all the splendors of heaven are available to us. It’s not that our passions are too strong; rather, they’re too weak. But Jesus said “blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed.” And that, I think, is the crux of it: like Abraham, we believe, but think we can take the short road to the good thing God has promised. Yet it seems there is no shortcut to righteousnes, for even Jesus “learned obedience through those things which he suffered.” If the Son of God Himself had to learn obedience, how much more ourselves?

Yet we don’t like pain (I don’t), and will try to cope, mask, cover it however we can: through food, entertainment, sex, porn, drugs, alcohol, etc. Problem is, we treat Jesus like just another bottle in the medicine cabinet: we try a little, and when it doesn’t work, we pull something else off the shelf. Proving that we’re no different than the wayward children of Israel (going after foreign gods).

We don’t know how to endure. We are a culture of now. If You, Sovereign Lord, aren’t going to come through, well then, we’ll just hedge our bets. Because You’re too slow, distant, implacable, invisible. You don’t know. You promise life, and by God we’re going to find it somewhere. You just don’t know.

Yet He does:

Jesus was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

And the beauty of His sacrifice is that we don’t have to anymore. We don’t have to sin: we have a new nature. Yet we still carry around this dead flesh, and that in a fallen world. “For the Spirit lusts against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit–the two are contrary to one another.”

“Who shall deliver us from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord.” Thanks be to God!

But do we really believe it? Do we live like we believe it? Most times I confess I do not. And so we come back around again…

Trying to fill those holes. Which is why, for me, the answer is no longer things. I’ve tried things: gone to conferences, tried liquor, stuffed my feelings with food.

None of them, not a single thing, ever gave me life. Life, hope, is only found in the nail-scarred hands of the One Who died for me. I’m done beating myself up for my failures, and giving them to Him. I’m also, in the interests of developing better strategies, surrendering my pride and going for counseling.

There are things I’ve held onto for too long. And I need help laying them down.

How about you: what do you do to cope? Where do you try to find life? Is there anything you need to lay down?

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Lent is a season of reflection, traditionally a time of giving up things in order to draw closer to the Lord. I have no problem with this. There are things we all could, and should, give up. How much time, for instance, do we here in America spend watching televisions versus in Bible study and prayer? What about social media–Twitter, Facebook, and other social games (such as Words With Friends).

It certainly would not hurt to spend less time doing those things, or to go without them, during Lent. How much of a sacrifice, however, is giving up Facebook for Lent? In our culture of entitlement, I would say not much at all. It is the sacrifice of the least common denominator, and something which is rather convenient to do.

Folks, it is not a hardship to give up Facebook, or Twitter, during this season. Especially if one announces one’s intentions via social media. That does not bespeak of the humility associated with the Lenten season, and really only serves to self-aggrandize:

“Look at me! I’m giving up social media for Lent. See you in forty days.” (Don’t believe me? Search Twitter. You will see. Or check this article on Gizmodo).

Which is why I’m not giving up social media, blogging, or an online presence during Lent. I am not interested in drawing attention to myself by highlighting my humility (which is really just pride, cleverly disguised). What I am giving up, if I give up anything at all, is between me and my Lord.

If you are giving something up, making a sacrifice of some kind, please don’t tell anyone. Just do it. Let it be between you and Jesus. He already knows all of your idols, inordinate affections, where you spend your time, energy, and attention. My rule is simple: if we are give anything up, it should be something near and dear to us.

Not something outside of us. Because anything outside is merely a symptom of an inner condition. A sacrifice would not necessarily be giving up social media, television, online gaming, etc., but rather laying down our rights, our pride, our arrogance, and our vanity. It is not the thing, but rather the why behind the thing that matters. It is motivation that is key.

And in motivation, the heart is central.

My best advice? Get in a place where you can be quiet before Jesus, and ask Him what–if anything–He wants you to give up this Lenten season. I guarantee the answer will surprise you.

Jesus is like that.

The New Testament declares that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore do not be entangled again in a yoke of slavery.” The insanely high cost of this freedom is the death of Jesus on the cross. And yet in my own life (I don’t presume to speak for you) I’ve again and again how I’ve chosen bondage over freedom.

How?

By turning to familiar comforts, by harboring unforgiveness, by trying to find life apart from God. And isn’t true that we will worship that from which we hope to derive life?

I’ve seen it time and time again in my own life. It’s crazy! It’s the kind of dissonance of which Paul wrote in Romans seven: “it is not I, but the sin within me.” The sin is within me because I am a spirit, possess a soul, and walk around in an unredeemed body.

We all do. Yet the beauty of the freedom for which Christ died is that we no longer have to heed the voice of the flesh (or of the evil one): we are free!

Yet that freedom comes with a sobering responsibility: we have to choose everyday–moment by moment, hour by hour–to walk in it. And believe you me: the world, the flesh, and the devil will do their utmost to keep us in a place of bondage.

Is the desire for revenge entirely natural? Yes–yes it is. But God says that vengeance is His.

Is it natural to withhold forgiveness when we’re hurt, or slighted? Again, yes. But God commands us to forgive.

Is it natural to lash out, use our words as weapons? Assuredly. But God says that the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Make no mistake: these are hard things. But we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We must choose, despite what our senses tell us, to align ourselves with the values of an invisible kingdom.

And it begins by dying, by crucifying our pride at the foot of the cross everyday. By taking up that cross, and following Jesus, who thought equality with God was not something to be grasped. Instead, he humbled himself, and came as a servant.

And that is what we are: servants.

Bondslaves of grace.

Let grace compel you today to dig deeper, reach higher, and bow before the One Who sees and knows all. For there is nothing hidden from Him with Whom we have to do.

He knows the bitterness we hold inside, knows about the unforgiveness, knows in fact every prideful, lustful, vile thought. So instead of hiding in shame: tell Him.

He already knows anyway.

We have nothing to lose (except our pride), and absolutely everything to gain.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Speak on it: What are you laying down today?

So, Sharideth Smith and I are riding together (along with a whole host of other awesome bloggers) on Bryan Allain’s BlogRocket. She’s guest posting for me here today, and I’m laying some smack down on the ladies over in her crib (hey, turnabout’s fair play, right?). On a related note, in an unfortunate bit–albeit MotorCop approved–of Internet double-parking, I’m also guest posting for Alise Wright. So, please go over there and check out my bearing of soul.

Anyway, with her scintillating snark, and absolutely deadpan sense of of humor, here’s the “Wednesday Addams” of Christian blogging, Sharideth Smith:

'MMA fight' photo (c) 2009, Peter Gordon - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

so the pastor wars are on. maybe not directly between the rock star super shepherds, but battle lines have been drawn among the fans.

fans?

yes. fans.

Continue Reading…

>Recording Graphics by Lloyd Dangle at USC Creativity & Collaborationphoto © 2000 Norman Lear Center | more info (via: Wylio)

It is a truth so axiomatic that it almost goes without saying; almost, but I’ll say it: artists, creative types, are among the most neurotic people I know. And I should know: I’m one of them (is that egotistical to say?).

Therein lies the rub, for what other group of people is there that simultaneously wants to be recognized for their talent(s) while yet feeling extremely bad about being so recognized? Not only that, but we creatives are an insanely jealous lot, given heavily to the sin of comparison. “I wish I could write like…”

There is a great tension that we live in: between feeling–knowing–we have something to say (whether it be written, painted, sculpted, photographed), and doubting the voice with which we say it. There is a tremendous vulnerability here, in self-expression, that leaves us open to these plaguing self-doubts. “How will I be received?” “How will I be perceived?”

In writing this, I feel somewhat like a magician giving up trade secrets, but this I know of a certainty: especially as pertains to creative type work, the ego is so bound up in the work that there is an almost inevitable juxtaposition that occurs, where the lines between the self and the work overlap, blur, become (in our minds) indistinguishable.

And that, I think, is what distinguishes the pro from the amateur: the ability to divorce one’s ego from the work, to take rejection in stride. To realize it’s not necessarily a rejection of the self, but of the work. And that there is more, and better, work ahead.

This is a hard fought battle, one with which I struggle everyday. And I think even more so because I am a Christian. Those reading who are of similar faith will understand. What I mean is that we flog it pretty hard, day-in-and-day-out, trying to get noticed (or our work noticed) and then feel bad for drawing attention to ourselves. There is a particular guilt there that feeds the neuroses mentioned above. We think “where is the humility in drawing this attention to myself?”

It doesn’t have to be this way. We–I–need to embrace the fact that God gave us certain talents, skills, abilities, the exercise of which brings Him glory, honor, and dare I say, pleasure. He put the desire to create there. Embrace it. Be the conduit who, while seemingly drawing attention to the self, is truly pointing others to God. It’s a delicate balance, but it can be done.

I leave you with this: the secret to conquering pride is to be just as proud of another’s work as we are of our own. Of course this requires dying to ourselves everyday.