Pride

Today’s scripture comes from a Bethel Church music video, that I had playing this evening.”Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

On Sunday, I wrote about my challenge with Faith, today, I continue on the main topic and focus on PRIDE. Through the first have of my Christian journey when I reflect, I think there’s someone who understands what it means to be humble. Today, I want to be that person…it’s extremely difficult to be what I once was.

In the past when someone gave me a compliment or a bit of praise on something I had done, I would say thanks and think nothing more of it. When I get that same type of praise today, it’s extremely hard for me not to make another comment to add to it, and I don’t know where that came from or why I find that I need to do it, why I find that I need to build myself up.

The thought crosses my mind that perhaps it’s because I’m putting myself into positions that subconsciously I don’t feel that I have any business being in. There are two aspects of my life, oddly which don’t involve me being a parent, where I feel this way.

Work

“Fake it ’til you make it” well that about sums up my life as an employee right now. I’ve gone from a security officer to this hodge podge of parts multimedia designer, photographer, videographer, technical go to, security specialist and social media analys, all within the past year, with more and more emphasis being placed on the first piece. It is odd to look back at what I received my degree in (Communications – Video/Film) and the plans I had for the future then, thinking well the path I’m on has me not using this anytime soon. Now, six years later, suddenly it’s no longer hidden in my back pocket, but thrust to the top of the freshly written job description that is pending. Fake it ’til you make it seems to have taken over as I’m doing things that I don’t feel anywhere qualified to be doing. I mean I work for the University of Michigan, me, as a security officer, you made things up on the fly using policy to guide your decisions and actions, now, I’m creating safety content for one of the top ranked Universities in the world. Wow. Is it natural, that because of the position that I’m transitioning to that the overwhelming feelings that I suppress manifest themselves in the outward, prideful bragging when someone makes a positive remark or statement that is meant to build me up? Let’s explore another example.

Church

Just six months ago, I was the “second man” on the technical team, riding easy, not a lot to think about, some projects here and there, but it was relatively stress free. Fast forward to the present and I’ve been placed in a leadership role overseeing two different areas: Technical Arts and Information Technology. While at the moment the majority of the stress comes simply from the staffing of positions on a weekly basis with volunteers, but nothing too horrible. But when I look at those around me, I sometimes get the feeling that I’m just faking it. That I’m doing my best to make the right decision on the fly. I’ve been working to get a server up and running for a few months now, granted there have been a large amount of roadblocks that I have no control over. But when I bring up the idea to a couple of others, it is usually met with that sounds fun and pretty easy and I’m sitting there thinking, fun…maybe, easy….I wish it was for me, do I even belong in this position. Then i recieve building praise for the job and the work that I’m doing and get the thought of I am doing a good job and become prideful rather than humble. Often giving a response that take the praise up an notch and makes it come from me as well.

I’m fully aware that God puts us into the situations where we have no option to fail and that those situations only strengthen our reliance on Him. The question I pose is how do you rely on God to provide and when the stars align and you get the jobs done well, and receive praise how do I go back to being humble when that praise feels so good and at the same time soaking in the praise only goes to reduce the reliance on God and make me feel as though I did it rather than God doing it through me? Why does that piece of me that I once had in check come out? Does it correlate to my inner struggles with my faith and lack of discipline for not giving glory where it is due to the one King?

Miracles happen when you fix your eyes on Jesus. Lord, help me to fix my eyes upon you, to lift up your name when I feel prideful or receive praises for the gifts that you’ve given to me, thank you for working in my heart and for bringing light to the darkest places and allowing for me to overcome my struggles; continue to help me surrender to you and to place my faith in you for everything.

I pray for my wife this evening Lord, the struggles that she’s been dealing with: finances for her trip to North Carolina and her grandmother’s memorial service and the headaches that have come with it. Thank you for helping them find a way to get there and that the details have come together with your guidance.  Watch over them as they travel, keep them safe from harm.

Lord, bless our volunteers at Radiant Church. The sacrifices made by so many on a weekly basis are exhausting and I honestly don’t know how some of them continue to do it, week after week. Be the breath that fills them with new life and restores their desire to praise you.

Blessings be upon my mother, she is such a blessing in all areas of my life and I never truly show how much I appreciate all of the assistance she provides to me and each of my brothers. May she have peace as she prepares for Jacob and Bailey’s wedding and know that all things will work through You.

Lord be with the leadership of this country and the people as we begin the increasingly volatile approach to the November elections. May you place your hand on the individual elected and guide the decisions that are to be made in the direction that this country is to go.

Help us all to be as humble as Christ was, in all that we do. Amen.

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Challenges

The challenge for me in my walk with God has been to put my faith in him. What’s spurred this confession? Oddly a very poor Nicholas Cage movie version of “Left Behind.” It got me thinking, would I be left. Sure, I’ve accepted Christ as my savior, over and over again, but have I meant it? Or is it something that I’ve just thought I should do and was right. My walk with God has been up and down, left right, sometimes with jerks and gut checks, and at other times with great blessings.

The latest sermon series at Radiant Church Ann Arbor is entitled “Pray First.” What are the sermon’s about? How to put prayer first in our lives and the impact it will have our walk with God. How is this challenging? Well for someone who has struggled to find a space for God in the personal sphere of my life, I understand the need to do it. I understand the need to read the bible and the applications and implications it has in my personal attitude toward people and in general, but it always happens, I’ll start….1, 2, 3 days later I’m off doing what I’ve been doing. I guess it could be called a lack of personal discipline and personal conviction and a feeling of spiritual ineptitude.

Most of the people I know and hang out with grew up in churched homes,  learning the bible. My family, we went to church, but it was not a getup and go Sunday morning thing, too many kids, too much time, it was mostly holidays, the occasional sunday, but the experience didn’t mean anything for me at that age, there was no organized children’s programs to speak of, no memory verses that I can recall, not that it makes much different as my brain is pretty much a black hole, what goes it, unless it keeps to the edges and gets used just kind of gets sucked into oblivion made even worse with the introduction of the smart phone into my personal life. Church, as I know it today, didn’t happen until late in my Junior High School years, and even then it was less about the church and more that I was able to get plugged in and do something that was interesting to me…video (more on that at a later date). Ever since High School when youth group members would quote bible passages, I’ve felt as though I was behind everyone, like it was something that I should know and didn’t. I don’t know where that feeling comes from, no one has ever looked at me and asked, don’t you know that verse, or anything like that…so i suppose it comes from a pride issue of wanting desperately for people to accept me and think highly of me, so I’ve taken care to keep myself guarded, never letting anyone get too knowledgeable of what I do or don’t know or what I actually think or feel. I think it also comes with a bit of immaturity in my faith: I’ve never allowed that mustard seed that was planted so many years ago to grow, never fully sewed it, never provided it the nourishment it needed; the reading and praying, that would have allowed it to flourish into something that consumed me and provided me with new life. Today I start to face that challenge and this is part of it.

Something that brought this to mind was watching a basil plant that I’ve had since the beginning of July. I bought the plant when it was beautiful and green, full of life. After a few days the leaves began to droop and the soil was hard, so I gave it some water and back to life it came, but then the nats came, and began to lay eggs in the soil, so we the basil was put outside and neglected. Soon the leaves were brown and dry, and there it sat on the porch, something appearing to be dead and gone, until the rains came and with them, new life. I was amazed that this plant had come back from what was certain death, it was new again, sprouting from where the dead had been. It now sits on my porch, green and full, continuing to grow and flourish and when its been a couple days since the rain, I’ll give it water and it will continue to grow.

The new life in Christ gives, does the same thing to the soul as the water to the plant, it restores and give strength. Will you drink the healing water?

Worship. Clear the mind. Offer yourself to Him. Take a drink of His healing water. Pray.

Pray First has been a reminder of how I need to get myself in a position to be the spiritual voice and guidance that my family needs. One of the ways that I’ve learned to as a tool to assist me in this development is SOAP.

Scripture:

Romans 1:18 – 32 NASB

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth [a]in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident [b]within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not [c]honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and[d]crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for [e]a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,who is blessed [f]forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is [g]unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing [h]indecent acts and receiving in [i]their own persons the due penalty of their error.

28 And just as they did not see fit [j]to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, [k]haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Observation

Verse 21 in this passage is giving me that gut check. I’ve been blessed with different talents that make me who I am and allow me to do what I do in my personal passions and in my spiritual passions, but often I don’t place credit where it needs to be placed, on Him.

Application

I need to put God first. In work, in home life, God needs to receive the glory and praise for what I am able to do on a daily basis. He needs to be the water for my life to provide the cleansing waters for my soul. For if he is not my heart will become darkened and just like the basil will wither and die.

Prayer

My Heart – Lord and gracious father, thank you for being my everything. For giving me the ability to have new life and be green again. My prayer today is that you continue to remind me to look to you before anything else and provide for the lightening of my heart. Praise be to the king of kings, for you are my everything, may I look to You in times of trouble as the light in the darkness.

I long for your assistance in raising my daughter to know you and your ways and to understand the glory and the power that You are and to feel the breath of Your word as it fills her. Longing to lead this family that we’re creating is something that needs to be at the front of my focus with You and that begins with loving my wife as she deserves and in a way that shows Your love. Often I forget that I need to be the one to lead us spiritually and that starts here as it’s the only way that I can comfort and provide for them in all of life’s aspects.

Lord, you know our struggles with the portable church and the setup of everything on a weekly basis. How much longer will we continue in this process. We continue to look to You, may our prayers be heard for we long for the building that we can call our own and the opportunities that I will bring. I pray for our leadership, Pastors Jeremy and Celeste that they will find peace in knowing that Your plan will be made known and that they continue to feel the blessing they’ve been on so many of us who serve on a daily basis.

From time to time you throw us unexpected curve balls, the things we don’t see coming, family member’s deaths, friends parents passing away and the blessings that those who aren’t in our lives daily can be. Thank you Father for the friends that I have on the technical team at Radiant. Thank you for James, who had every right in my book, to not serve today and for Braxton who gives and gives time and time again, bless them as they go about their days this week, may they feel your presence at work, school or home. Be the comfort to Braxton’s friend Chris, who is going things that I can’t even comprehend trying to deal with at this moment, while attempting to find a comfort and understanding surrounding his father’s passing.

Finally, Lord, be with those who are leading our government. This election season has only seen an increase in the tensions that are growing. Provide wisdom to make the right decisions and to say the right words. It may take years for some decisions to come down and be made known, may they be guided by Your hand and not the enemy.

Thank you for sending Your son for me. Amen.

Thank you for staying with me if you did.