What You Believe About Yourself

One of the primary things I tell people is that their life has infinite value and worth in God’s eyes. This is because they were created in God’s image; he formed them in their mother’s womb, sent his son to redeem them, loves them, and is working to bring about the best outcome for their life.

There are numerous reasons I tell people this concept repeatedly.

Some people come from a bad home life where they were told or at least made to feel as if their life had no value. Also, as people grow up, they make mistakes, and it is easy to feel their life lost value from their actions. Still, others do not fit a cultural mold of how they should look or behave, and self-worth plummets. Finally, as people become more isolated, their feelings of inadequacy increase, and their self-image declines. 

One lesson I am learning over the past few years is that it is not only essential for people to understand Godly self-worth for their own sake, but it is also necessary for their relationships. What they believe about themselves impacts every person to whom they are connected. Their self-image affects their relationship with their spouse and children more than they understand. How they relate to their parents, siblings, and coworkers is directly connected to how they view themselves. 

The Christian faith keeps people rooted in the reality that they are God’s children. He created and loves them, and nothing in this world can change that truth, despite their momentary feelings.

You and I both need to have our worth connected to God for our own sake and for the sake of the people we love. 

Until You Feel It

Reaching out to another person does not seem like a good work.

Until you have felt alone.

When you have felt the pain of isolation and loneliness, and then someone reaches out to you, it is life-giving. A text to ask how you are doing can open a window into your soul. A call where someone shows interest in you can fill your heart with gladness. A visit from someone shows you that your life matters to others.

We often underestimate the simplest of actions that connect us with other people. We do until we have been on the other side, and then we understand the weight of human contact.

Your attempt to connect with someone could be blown off and appear meaningless to some; it could also be a ray of light into a dark world for others.

Real Conversations at Church

My son became an usher at the Church he attends. When I was growing up, our small Church had ushers; their job was to hand out printed programs and help people to their seats. So thinking I knew what he was talking about, I began to ask him several questions.

To my surprise, their ushers are much different than I remember. Their Church community has recruited a group of young men simply to have conversations with people on Sunday mornings. They arrive early and look for people they do not know. They introduce themselves and start a conversation. The one rule he told me is that they are not allowed to ask, “How are you today?” or “How are you doing?” Instead, they are required to have a “real conversation.”

One of the core values of his Church is that they aim to be “relationally intense.” Their goal is not to have surface-level conversations and vague acquaintances. Instead, their goal is to build authentic relationships, starting with genuine discussions on Sunday mornings.

I wonder what would happen if I instituted this in the Church I lead. What would happen if every Church took this approach?  

Unexpected Surprise at Worship

Recently I went to a worship program where I was asked to do the closing prayer. Unfortunately, in the days leading up to the event, there had been changes in time, issues with sickness, and nothing seemed to go smoothly. So the night it occurred, I wasn’t expecting much.

The evening started just the way I expected. There was a disconnect between the leaders, and one expressed a distressing issue in his life. Within minutes I felt like the night would be a waste of time and drain my soul. 

Then everything changed. A single man began to lead worship on his guitar, and it connected to something deep in my soul. I am unsure if it was the words, his presentation, the fact that I was not leading, the Holy Spirit, or possibly all of them combined that touched me so profoundly. I sang along and could feel a connection to God. 

Next, the sermon hit a passage I had not given much thought. It was insightful and encouraging. I took notes and read along in the scripture. The thirty minutes seemed to fly by as the lesson touched me too. 

Finally, I stayed around afterward and visited with people for a long time. There was conversation and connection to the people I had not experienced before that night. The fellowship was sweet, and the evening was a blessing.

I had gone into the program with low expectations, and God had surprised me with his presence in the worship, word, and people. I went home with my soul filled with gladness.

One truth in worshipping Jesus is that he is alive and active. You never know when he will surprise you and speak to your heart. Some weeks you may worship and leave wondering if it was worth your time. But other weeks, you will be more than thankful that you were there. I cannot tell you the difference or when it will happen. All I can say to you is, “Keep showing up,” and some days, God will surprise you.

The Two Opposites in Spiritual Growth

There are two places where spiritual growth can happen in the life of a believer.

The first is whenever we step out of the crowd to experience silence and solitude. Sometimes we need to step away from the noise and busyness of life to listen for the voice of God. A quiet morning reading the scripture or pausing for prayer can allow God to work in the deepest parts of our souls.

The second place we can grow is in community. The group can force me into situations that help me expand my heart and mind. I can learn from the wisdom of the aged and share my insights with the next generation. People are often the hammer God uses to mold our souls into more loving, grace-filled, and knowledgeable people.

For most people, the tendency is to lean strongly into one of these facets. We love to be alone, or we thrive on community. Faith’s challenge is pushing ourselves into the place that makes us the most uncomfortable. In those spaces, we experience the growth we might not expect.

Stretching ourselves to step away from people or draw closer to them will cause us anxiety and headaches, but those are often the very things we need to become like Christ. 

Start Somewhere

Returning to my office after the Thanksgiving break, I was greeted by a desk full of documents and piles of tasks to do. I stood for a few minutes, looking at all the work before me, wondering where to begin. 

Should I start with the most manageable tasks or the most difficult ones? Would it be wise to begin with the most significant job and work till I reach the least important one? Maybe I should develop a plan starting with the quickest project and work my way to the one that will consume the most time.

Finally, I decided to “start somewhere” and dig into each job as I came to it.

That does not sound profound or insightful, but I believe it is still a helpful analogy. Whenever we decide to change our lives in any area, we tend to focus on developing a plan more than just getting started. Sometimes the most challenging step is beginning. 

It is possible that the change you want to make in your life does not require a grand design as it does the will to start somewhere. Once you start, it is easy to adjust and improve. Every great change begins by taking on a single task and seeing where it leads.   

The Monday After Thanksgiving

It only takes a few hours to transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. By today the idea of Thanksgiving is a distant memory, and everyone is fully immersed in the Christmas spirit. 

Still, one quest for the Christian is to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive in their soul for the entire year. Gratitude is at the heart of a follower of Jesus. We are blessed beyond measure through the work of the cross with mercy and grace. We are loved by God and adopted into his family as believers. Our cup overflows with the blessings of God.

Make sure you thank God this holiday season for all you have received in Jesus before you ask for anything more.

Do Something Good

For no reason at all.

Not because of the holidays. Not because you hope to get something in return. Not because it looks good on a resume. Not because you need community service hours. Not because you want to impress other people on social media.   

Do something good for someone for no real reason at all. 

Do it because you follow Jesus, and doing something good for others is a significant part of your identity. You love Jesus, and the result is that you love others with no strings attached.

Preloved

I saw a store that listed their items as “Preloved.”  They were not second-hand, antiques, vintage, and certainly not used. 

When I read the sign, all I could think about was Romans 5:8. It says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God loved us through the work of the cross while we were disobedient, non-believers. 

Maybe it is helpful to think of people without Jesus this way. They are not failures, sinners, or ungodly pagans; they are simply preloved.    

Greater

I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but God is greater.

He is greater than any obstacle you are facing.

He is greater than any struggle you find yourself fighting.

He is greater than any temptation you are facing.

He is greater than any sin you have committed.

He is greater than anything evil can throw at you, whisper in your ear, or tell others about you. 

Take Courage; God is greater.