Above All Avoid Lies

“Above all, avoid lies, all lies, especially the lie to yourself. Keep watch on your own lie and examine it every hour, every minute. And avoid contempt, both of others and of yourself: what seems bad to you in yourself is purified by the very fact that you have noticed it in yourself. And avoid fear, though fear is simply the consequence of every lie.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky said that is his novel The Brothers Karamazov, and while I’m not sure about what Dostoyevsky believed when it comes to God, I think this quote sums up what happens in my brain a lot. I lie to myself. It’s not on purpose, but it happens anyway. I begin to believe that I’m not good enough. That I fail too much. That I am unworthy of my friendships and relationships. I believe these things, and then fear begins to grow. What if my friends realize that I’m such a mess and they don’t want to hang out with me anymore? I have these big things I want to do, but what is I never really make a difference? What if no one else likes what I write? Before I know it, I’m paralyzed. Stuck. Not moving forward, towards what God has awaiting me. The lies I believe have quickly lead to fear that controls and debilitates.

But, I think the part that Fyodor missed is that the author of those lies is satan. When we can remember that it takes away some of his power.  And when we take away his power, we kill the lies. When we kill the lies, so often, we also kill our fear.

But satan finds ways into our minds. He makes the lies so camouflaged that we even believe them to be truth. My theory is that a lot of our problems are rooted in the fact that we put our identity in the wrong things, and so it’s easy for satan to attack. We allow ourselves to be defined by our job, or our friendships, or the things we lead in. I know I am incredibly guilty of that. Often I find my identity in serving people. While serving people is a good thing, when my self-worth is found in it, we have problem. Serving is great, but it doesn’t define me. So when I begin to find my identity somewhere other than in Christ, I begin to seek approval somewhere other than in my relationship with God, and the things that He says about me. And that’s where satan pounces. He sees an opportunity to poison our minds with lies and fear, and he takes it.

I find myself there more often than I’d like to admit.

But I’m not content there. And you shouldn’t be either. Because fear is the enemy of growth and joy and pretty much every other good thing in life. And “fear is simply the consequence of every lie.”

Someone recently recommended that I read Psalm 139 to remind myself of what God says of me. My response was sort of embarrassing. I told her, “I know that one already. It’s kind of sunday schooly.” But a few days ago I read it anyway, and even though I’ve read it and heard it a hundred times before, it took on new meaning. I read the first verse over and over. “O Lord, you have searched me and known me.” This tells me that He knows everything about me, the good and the bad, and He loves me still. He knows the sins I commit, the thoughts I think, and the harsh words I say, and He still sent His son to die so that I could live in freedom. That truth, my friends, overrides every lie that satan plants, and every lie I’m tempted to believe.

 

Advertisements

Goodness

The world can look like a dark place sometimes. Hatred runs rampant, and violence seems to be lurking around every corner. In moments of tragedy I often find myself asking God, “what is going on? How could you let this happen?”

Yesterday was one of those moments. I sat in my cubicle as news of the Boston Marathon bombing flooded social media, and I began googling. Images of smoke, and blood, and loss came on my screen and broke my heart. Tears started to well up, but I choked them back, and started praying and asking God, “why”? When death and destruction are the common themes in the headlines, I wonder, how can we reconcile a loving creator with the seemingly unloving world He has created? It’s in those times that it’s difficult for me to remember that He is even loving to begin with, because if He was how could this happen?

But then I read stories of runners who ran straight to the hospital to donate blood so that people injured in the explosion could receive transfusions. In fact, the Red Cross received so many donations that it had to ask people to stop! And I heard about how when the explosion happened instead of running away, there were people that ran towards it to help those who had been injured. There was a spreadsheet made on GoogleDocs that listed what people had available, like housing and other resources for those who had been affected. Restaurants were opening their doors to feed people and let them use their wifi. Amidst the terror and brokenness, goodness came through. People were using social media not to voice their anger over a certain political issue, but instead to offer prayer and condolences and updates. A nation that has in the past few years been so divided on so many different things, came together to stand as one, even if but for a moment. In the face of tragedy we came together once more to love, and support, and comfort, even if it was just for a day. We were no longer republicans or democrats. Pro gay rights or anti gay rights. Pro choice or pro life. For at least one day, we were simply Americans. We were humans, showings kindness to one another, with no agenda attached.

I’ve always believe that as human beings, we are rotten to the core. That unless God is in our lives directing our steps, our nature is just do to evil. But I think I was at least half wrong, because if our nature is evil, then in the face of death people would not run to help they would run away. They would not open their homes and businesses, they would exploit the situation. Yesterday God reminded me that we were made to look like God. We were created to reflect His image. He created every human being in His likeness. Whether we know Him, or deny Him, there will be moments where His nature and character will still come shining through. Those moments are marked by goodness and selflessness in the face of fear and chaos. And those moments are beautiful.

While I still don’t understand why anyone would do something so cruel, or senseless, I know that God’s hand is still working in it. He did not cause the evil, but He is working through it to bring out the goodness that lies deep within us.

Preparing for Tomorrow, Living in Today

I have the unfortunate tendency to always look to tomorrow. I’m a planner by nature, so I’m always thinking about the next step and the next step and the  step after that. Sometimes this can be helpful, because my weeks are usually well planned out, and I can generally make good use of my time. But the problem with that is, I’m not promised tomorrow. All I’m promised is today, right now, this very moment that I am living in. Really, that is the only thing that is guaranteed. This is a lesson that God has to teach me every single day. I start to inch too far into the future, and God reels me back in, reminding me that I must live today, where I am, where He has put me.

I have big dream, goals, and desires. I want to see the world, and reach the people in it. When I think about what I want to do, somehow I always end up thinking in the future, instead of making the most of where I am right now. I know that I am not the only one guilty of this. I know so many people that say, “Someday I want to (insert your dream here)”. I say that. Don’t get me wrong, dreams aren’t a bad thing to have, in fact they are incredibly important. But we can do things right now to work towards our future dreams. We don’t have to wait until next week, next month, or next year to accomplish things that God is calling us to.

For example, Steven and I want to create a t-shirt company, that designs awesome shirts, that display bible verses with great graphics, and fonts. We want to fight the cliche, corny designs that we see all around. This is a future dream, but I can start working on it right now. I can learn more about design programs, I can find fantastic fonts, and I can start designing right now!

Another dream I have is to adopt. Obviously I cannot adopt right now, but I can be a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, and mentor a young kid who needs someone to invest in them and care for them. I might not be able to reach my exact dream yet, but I can begin preparing for it. World changing dreams don’t happen over night, they take work, sacrifice, and preparation.

I often catch myself thinking about and longing for the future. “I can’t wait for this thing, I can’t wait for that thing.” The problem is not dreaming about the good things that are to come, the problem is that it seems that I am discontent with my present. It makes we wonder, when the things I’m dreaming about now finally come to pass, will that be enough? Or will there be even more things that I long for that keep me from living in my present? Will I always be looking to the next thing, instead of living right where I am?

Like I said, I don’t think I’m alone. I think this is a part of the human condition. Sarah and Abraham were promised a child, God didn’t tell them when but he told them that their decedents would outnumber the stars. So, Sarah looked to that future, to that happiness she had been promised. But it made her seemingly miserable in her present. It made her miserable and impatient, so instead of waiting on God’s timing, she had Abraham impregnate her servant. We all know that that didn’t go very well for anyone involved. Sarah’s impatience, and inability to live in the here and now caused a whole lot of damage. Discontent runs deep in our hearts, planted there by the devil himself, and watered by our desires.

So how do we fight this? We live today with all that we have. We enjoy every single moment we’re given. We prepare for the future, by living in the present. By giving today our all, and not just a little bit. Today I am investing in my neighbors by making them dinner, and today I am enjoying my job by laughing with my boss. Today I am investing in my relationship by encouraging him and praying for him. I am grateful for today. I will not let it pass me by. Tomorrow will be here soon enough, but I will enjoy today while I have it.