Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘performance’

Being OK With Being Honest With God!

SOURCE: Taken from an article at  Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

Posing? For Who?

So many activities and experiences from childhood reinforce this scary and isolating concept of conditional acceptance. I know now that my parents loved me through thick and thin. But many times when I was a kid, that wasn’t so clear to me. I would interpret, actually misinterpret, their words, facial expressions, manipulative comments, tone of voice, body language, consequences, or sharp critique of my activities as rejection, rejection based on my performance.

You see, most Earthly systems, excluding our present government, are mainly works-based systems. Perform well, and get lots of acknowledgment and rewards. Mess up, and get criticism and lose a lot. Even in a grace based institution like a Christian church, we have the same traps – memorize a verse … get a gold star. Do well in youth group … get asked to join the worship team. Make a mistake … people gossip. If a Pastor’s wife is shy … she is viewed as cold.

Unfortunately, this conditional acceptance is a habit or pattern of thinking and viewing the world that flooded into my spiritual world as well. For so long, I had closed off parts of my life from God. I didn’t want Him to reject me, so I tried to hide my broken areas. I believed I could only bring a “cleaned-up” version of myself to Him.

How ignorant … how futile. Wounds and sins that we try to shut away from the light of His love will only fester, get worse, and then infect other areas of our life. Like a computer virus, we usually don’t realize what happens until a lot of damage occurs. Secret sins that we try to “hide” from our Lord can split off and develop lives of their own … controlling us without our knowledge while creating and building debilitating fear in our relationships and actions.

Today, open yourself completely to God. Open yourself to His transforming and healing presence. Let his brilliant love-light search out and destroy your hidden fears. Tell Him directly about one fear you struggled with today. The sooner you let Him into all those areas, the sooner His instruction and healing can soothe your hurts, and transform your heart and mind for lasting fulfillment and joy. Posing with God or finally getting honest with Him and yourself is your decision, so choose well.

Prayer
Dear Father, You know me inside and out. I no longer want to hide things from You. I am tired of hiding my wounds from You, then having to bear them all myself. Thank You for taking my yoke, and bearing my pains. Posing is getting so tiring. I just want to be myself and see what You can do with me. I am ready for real change from the inside out. I pray that Your love-light will seep deeply into the inner recesses of my being. Help me to understand Your perfect love … and to believe that perfect love drives out all fear. I pray this in the unconditional name of Jesus– AMEN!

The Truth
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 

Psalm 139:23-24

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 

1 John 4:18

 
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My Performance ≠ My Value

SOURCE:  Living Free Ministry

“For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!  Galatians 6:14-16 MSG


Wanting to perform at a level of excellence is admirable.

The problem is we are not created to be excellent at everything. The world seems to expect us to be, however, and we sometimes take on unrealistic views of what to expect from ourselves.

Our human tendency is to base our value on how well we perform. We strive to accomplish many things to feel a sense of value and worth. When we do well, we feel good about ourselves. When we don’t meet expectations we or others have placed on us, we see ourselves as failures.

Consider this … 

The possibility of trying to earn God’s and others’ love through how we perform and what we accomplish can overshadow the truth that God loves us for who we are. You may have heard it said that we are human beings, not human “doings.”

God loves you for who you are–his creation.

He loves you unconditionally.

He won’t love you any more–or any less–because of your performance.

Take comfort and rest in knowing that who you are is more important than what you can do. In God’s eyes, you are valuable because he created you and loves you. You belong to him not because of what you have done but because of what Jesus did for you. When you accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, you became a new creation.

It is not what you do. “It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life!”

Prayer

Father, help me remember that my performance, my ability to succeed according to the world’s standards, does not determine my value. But I am valuable because you love me unconditionally, because Jesus died on the cross for me, and because of the person you are molding me to be. In Jesus’ name . . .


These thoughts were drawn from … Where is the Image of God in You?  by Brad Rymer.

This “try, try again” approach will ruin you.

SOURCE:  Jan Johnson

Try, Try Again?  No.

Maybe it starts when you make a mistake: yelling at someone you love or not doing what you promised to do.

Or it starts when you see someone who seems light-years ahead of you: they grin at people who dismiss them; they praise someone who beats them out of a job. You feel so far behind! Your lack of character really shows.

Then we think: When am I going to get it? When am I going to stop being lazy, stop showing off, quit being depressed, no longer withdraw from the people I love, stop worrying over something that didn’t happen or cease trying to control my co-workers or family members? It’s easy to sink deeper into it: Why can’t I overcome this? Especially if our shortcoming is considered a “big” sin among the people we hang out with.

These questions keep our thoughts spinning and often lead to despair and hopelessness. We believe the answer is: Try harder. We’ve heard the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try – try again!” No. If I’ve lost my way back to my car, I don’t keep going back to the same space, thinking my car will magically appear. I pause. I stop and think. The saying should be: If at first you don’t succeed, ask God for help. I consider that God will show me a wiser, (usually) gentler approach.

First, we ask God for a “next step,” which doesn’t have to be huge. In fact, a smaller next step usually works better and leads to many more. A wise friend or spiritual director might suggest a better and different next step we haven’t thought of.

But we also look deeper. We ask the Spirit to show us the source of the problem (anger, exhaustion, boredom)? What am I afraid of? What (perhaps wise) caution is blocking me? These questions usually have to percolate with the help of the Spirit. Out of these questions may come a few small “next steps.”

This “try, try again” approach will ruin you.

Such spinning of thoughts is (I believe) a favorite method of the enemy to divert our attention from focusing on the Indwelling Christ. Going over and over our performance (How am I doing?) focuses us on ourselves, not God. When we focus on ourselves this way, we make ourselves the “star” of our spirituality instead of letting God be the “star” of our spirituality. Instead of asking, How am I doing? we ask, What, O God, are you leading me to be? To think? To do? Show me. Walk with me.

True humility involves relying on God all day long, moment by moment. “I can do all things through Christ who strengths me” . . . for the next ten minutes (Philippians 4;13, altered).

My inadequacy in this situation or my character flaw is clear to me and I’m not disturbed by it. I can’t overcome sin. “I do nothing on my own,” said Jesus (John 5:30). So I ask god, What are you leading me to be? To think? To do? Show me. Walk with me.

In humility we accept that growth is about progress, not perfection. Abraham journeyed on by stages (Genesis 12:9; 13:3). Israel was led “day by day continually” (Exodus 29:38). As we also do this, we can embrace the One who accompanies us on this journey, who loves being with us, who invites us to abide in Christ as Christ abides in us.

What Do You Have With Jesus: A Contract or Shared-Life?

SOURCE:  Jan Johnson

People talk about having a “personal relationship” with Jesus but when they talk about it, it seems more like an arrangement, agreement or even contract rather than living their life with God, every day.  People try to fulfill their side of the contract by trying hard to do good things (things they read in books or hear the pastor preach about). God’s role in the contract is to answer their prayers and to let them go to heaven when they die.  Then in the back of their minds, they may even feel betrayed when prayers aren’t answered as they wish – why didn’t God fulfill the contract?  Most of this is unspoken and even unrealized.

I also watch people beat up on themselves when they yell at their kids or refuse to help someone or flirt with the wrong someone. They’re sure God is upset with them for not fulfilling their side of the contract. Their good behavior was their end of the bargain, not a daily dependence on God’s life flowing through them or a co-laboring adventure with God. Living a with-God life is not an option.

If God had been interested in writing a contract with us, John 3:16 would read:

“For God felt so frustrated about what a failure the world was, that Jesus volunteered to be sacrificed so that anyone who feels obligated enough to go to church and read the Bible gets to go to heaven when they die.”

But a with-God life, relational version John 3:16 would be:

“God created us to build a heavenly community on this earth, a dwelling place for God’s own self on this planet.  But we haven’t always cooperated.  However, God wants us back! As we hang out with God throughout the day, we start living an eternal kind of life all day long. So Jesus demonstrated self-giving love for us so that whosoever sees the glory and beauty of God and the son Jesus Christ and puts all their confidence in them – they start living an eternal quality of life now and forever.”

You probably noticed that phrase:  eternal kind of life. Part of what creates the contract approach is the idea that “eternal life” is something that happens when we die.  It’s that, but much more here and now.  As I said in Invitation to the Jesus Life, “Eternal” (aionios) refers not just to how long we live but the quality of our life now, one in which we “experience here and now something of the splendor, and the majesty, and the joy, and the peace, and the holiness which are characteristic of the life of God.” An eternal kind of life is one of tasting daily the love of God – a love that “is a divine life, an infinite energy, an irresistible power” that you and I are invited to participate in (2 Peter 1:4).  It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  It is “nothing else than the life of God himself” in you.

God wants to have shared relationship with us right now:  hour by hour personal interaction. In this ongoing connection, we have shared life experiences with God. Shared life with someone on earth means that I can taste a food and tell you if my husband would like it; you can tell me a joke and I’ll know if my daughter would laugh; I can look at my son from across the room and know if he likes you or if he’s just being polite.  That’s shared life experience.  God wants that shared lifeexperience with us. Because we were created for it, it’s what we truly crave.

If you decided you also wanted that, what simple thing might you do right now to share your life with God?

Relationship or Obedience: What’s Important To Jesus?

SOURCE:  Based on an article by  Charles Stanley

Read | Revelation 2:1-7

Ephesus was the home of a tremendous ministry. Despite harsh persecution, the church planted by Paul endured opposition, spread the gospel, and was quick to challenge false prophets. But 30 years after the apostle left, John’s revelation included a stern warning for those believers.

Imagine how the words of Revelation 2 must have struck the Ephesians when they read them. After complimenting their service to the gospel, Christ said, “But I have this against you . . .” That phrase was no doubt extremely disconcerting. The Lord warned them that they had left their first love. In other words, all of their work was being done with wrong motives.

Christ called the Ephesians to remember their love for Him and their delight in His salvation. Service is no substitute for an intimate relationship, but modern believers continue to fall into this subtle trap. The commendable things that we do count for nothing unless they stem from a vibrant personal connection with God. Our work can’t be effective or fruitful unless He is in it.

In fact, God is more interested in you and your personal relationship with Him than in a thousand lifetimes of good works. He desires to be the satisfaction and delight of His children so that their service is a result of loving devotion.

There are plenty of wrong reasons to labor for the kingdom. However, God is satisfied only with service motivated by love for Him. He wants those with selfish intentions to return to their first love. In that way, hearts and minds can be renewed, and service to the Lord will be more fruitful.

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