A Pathfinder out of Self-exaltation

In the half-a-year since my last post, I have continued to walk with Him, and have been spared much self-exaltation by the input of people in my life who keep me grounded in Gospel reality. Getting Covid, being in a time of some “transition” in my life, and also experiencing relational abundance that I have long desired has recently brought me to an all-too-familiar temptation of self-aggrandizement and self-righteousness. I am sure others struggle with this too, but for me it looks like having pretend conversations with people that make me feel good about myself. This bad habit has led me into temptations of more practical natures such as indulging in lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life that leads to treating others carelessly and unlovingly. This most recent time, I recognized I was turning inwards on myself, trying to assuage feelings of sadness and by journaling, I marked the pathway out.

I believe God has given us tools to manage and combat the sin in our internal world that arises from within all us. If you would like to follow me, I will show you the path from self-pleasing thoughts, to God-pleasing thoughts. The person who spends his time pouring over his own private treasures of achievements and accolades, and bases his view of himself upon them is a very poor man who has little experience of the Love of God in his life. And it is the Love of God that our hearts are truly seeking.

Here is the way back to God if you have fallen or some later day fall into this trap.

  1. Repent, looking to the Lord. The most terrible thing about pride is it gets our eyes off of God and places them onto ourselves or that thing in which we take pride. The first step to any right orientation of the heart is the re-placing of the sight upon the face of Jesus in the Scripture. Seeking His face, His grace, His love, His truth. Without this, one is trying to find his way out of a room blind.
  2. Confess the fantasies and my pride in them. Let’s say I had a fantasy of someone who I thought didn’t like me very much. This person in the fantasy is in danger, and I save their life. If I was to rehearse this fantasy often so that my heart got used to a feeling of superiority over their appreciation, when I engage with that person in real life, it has happened that I find myself dissatisfied with the reality of the exchange at the heart level. It is a fantasy that my heart has wanted to believe to be true, because my heart wants to accumulate more worth to itself. It becomes a lie when I choose to desire that reality over the reality God has given me to live in the Gospel. In other words, when I indulge my heart in good feelings over a fantasy of people’s praise, I base my heart on my own imagination and I become puffed up and I “lose connection with the head.” (Colossians 2:19) This sets me up for the same failure of any member of the body that is powerlessly disconnected from the brain. I say all of this because it may not be immediately obvious what is wrong with fantisy. To imagine it is not necessarily wrong if it’s not in violation of God’s moral will, but the way the heart takes the fantasy and uses it to ascribe worth to itself: this is the wrong. The only true standard of worth that the heart should take pleasure and delight in, is conformity to the image of Christ Jesus. And so, I lay out the fantasy before God, and acknowledge my pride in that self-created smokescreen. This is because “In all your ways acknowledge God, He’ll make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:6) God can only straighten us out, if we are willing to be straight with Him.
  3. Take each fantasy and feeling and self-thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is where we can use our imagination against our pride. Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily, and follow me.” So, ever Christian has a tool to put to death their old life, and to remind them of their present life, and the promise of their future life. The Cross is this very tool. It is that which a Christian carries with them, until the time God has appointed them to set it up and give their life as a representation of Christ. It is the very thing that separates Christians from non-Christians, and it is a stage of Christian development that not every Christian attains, but this is how the Cross can be the answer to any sin struggle. In this case, what I like to do is use my imagination to picture my Cross. It’s usually laying down on the rocks in a dark-cloudy place. I see my fantasy stretched out on the cross, and take a hammer in my hand and nail the fantasy to the cross for it to die. I usually incorporate a tangible bodily action like swinging my hand with a make believe hammer in it, because fantasy touches reality through our emotion’s impact on our bodies. The reverse is also true. Reality touches fantasy through our bodily actions impact on our emotions. And so, when I take a fantasy, let’s say pictured as my idea about the way a person should feel appreciative toward me, and I nail it, it’s not like I am wishing evil upon that person. It is my acknowledging that this thought of them is unworthy of them, and must be dealt with. Not only this, but it is unworthy of Christ. And the Cross is the Gate by which anything inside us or outside of us can be given to God as a sacrifice. If God wishes our heart, or our imagination about something to be spared, then He can resurrect it for His glory by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Once this step is taken, I find that there is an emotional response like loss or a sadness over the fantasy given up, but this is where the heart must take the next step.
  4. Thank God for the good things that remain. Whenever I have done this, I have found that God gives me great clarity about the things that are of Him vs the things that are of me. The things that remain still alive after all is nailed to the Cross are things are of God, and therefore worthy of giving Him thanks. The things that are of me are temporary, but the things that are of God are eternal. And when I thank God, I anchor my heart’s sight upon the Lord, by recognizing God’s goodness in the things that are from Him, through Him, and to Him. (Romans 11:36). To Him be the glory forever.
  5. Worship, delight, and rejoice in Him. O the joy of leaving behind the worthless and vain things of our own heart-idolatry! Our hearts grow so unhappy simply because we are so determined to want anything and everything short of God Himself. But when our eyes are on God, we feel based on His truth, His gospel, His love, then we have an overflowing cup of eternal joy that will spread to every area of our life. This eternality of Joy is the secret on the other side of the Cross a Christian carries. The source of every dissatisfaction in a believer’s life, is anything un-crucified, or un-surrendered to his or her new Master. But in obedience and submission to Him, a human being finds his purpose fulfilled, and all his life is as it should be until he hear those precious words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

May you and I find our deepest delight in the One whom our hearts were designed to worship.

The Broom

He didn’t know why it was laying against the kitchen wall. Kitchens don’t usually have walls, but he figured it could be fun to play with. Grown-ups all seemed to learn one way of doing something and to stick to it. He wanted to try them all!

  1. First he grabbed the handles with both hands and thrust the broomy end at his sisters to poke fun at them. They were not amused.
  2. Then, he went into the living room and spun it around on his hands and it fell clattering to the floor as he dropped it. He tried again because it was fun! Maybe he could do it for a whole minute!
  3. He held the stick nearest the broom between his legs and started swaying his body back and forth to move things off the coffee table with the tip of the handle.
  4. He balanced it on his head and tried to walk through a door with each end sticking out either side. It fell backwards instantly, but after a second try he bent up his leg and caught it on his heel!
  5. He flipped the broom so that the broomy end was up, and he parted it down the middle like hair and grabbed both clumps. He then started rotating the broom like it was a giant steering wheel and he became the pilot of a ship heading through rough seas. The wind was bellowing, the lightning flashing, the rain hailing down on him. The ship ran aground and he took his musket with him with the wide end under his arm, and the tip pointing out in front of him. He made his way to a beautiful lighthouse. He climbed to the top, and from the top saw there was another ship. A Pirate ship! He looked through the scope of his gun, and saw that they were getting ready to sail. He jumped down from the lighthouse onto the ground, and fired a shot at one of the pirates holding onto a rope. And when the man fell off, he grabbed the rope and swung up onto the deck. Suddenly, he was surrounded by bad guys, and his musket now became a sword! He fought them off, and swung his sword wide to fend off the attackers! He reached the Captain, and the captain said if he could beat him in a fight, he’d be the new captain. So, he fought the captain, and swung his sword down on his head and knocked him unconscious. The crew were amazed! The captain shook his head vigorously after a few moments, and he took the hat off the captain’s head and he became the new captain of the ship!

The King and the Seven Realms

Once upon a time there was a powerful King over a vast kingdom, and the Kingdom was beautiful in his eyes. He appointed rulers over the kingdom, but the representatives rebelled and turned the whole kingdom against the King. The Castle was the only place left where the light still shined and where people served the King. All the rest of the lands around were enshrouded in darkness.

But the King loved his people even though they had rebelled. He divided his realm into Five realms which competed with each other, until they could rejoin him. Though this slowed his people’s rebellion down, things kept getting worse and worse.

He selected a man from his people and called him to leave the Five dark realms to be the King’s representative. He wanted the man to show the rest of the realms how they could rejoin the King whom they hated so much. The man wasn’t perfect, but he trusted in his king. The King took this one man and his wife and protected and provided for them until they became a huge family, which became a people. The King set them up in a space that became the sixth realm in the middle of the Five dark realms.

Still, even this family of people which the King had set apart didn’t show the other people how to rejoin the King. They started to take over the other realms claiming they were serving the King. But everyone else despised them. The Sixth realm had become even darker than the other Five realms.

But the King loved the family, and he sent his new-born son, the Prince, to grow up in this family. He hoped that his son would show all six realms a way back to serving the King. But when the Prince was full grown, he looked just like his father, and the whole sixth realm came together against him, and the Five other dark realms came together in agreement that they wanted nothing to do with the Prince or his King, so they had him killed!

Now the tables had turned. All the people were shown for what they truly were: selfish rebels against a good King.  And the Prince who had become one with his people, did not stay dead, but the King  brought him back to the castle where he was brought back to life again! The King was shown to have the power of life over death!

The people from all the realms around, the five and the Sixth, heard the news that the Prince had come back to life. Some would never serve the King again, but others resubmitted to the King’s Rule, and they established little pockets of what was now the Seventh realm: The King’s Kingdom. Light started shining in the dark realms again.

Once all was arranged for the King’s reclamation, the King and his Son went out with a huge army to cast out the rebels who refused to rejoin the King and destroyed their lands. All that was left, he gave to those who had returned again to serve him as their King. He made the Seven realms into One realm again: The King’s Kingdom was fully renewed.

The Prince took for himself a Bride from among the people whom he loved so much and he became the new King. He appointed new rulers: faithful ones who would not betray the King who fought for them, and the new King who gave his life for them. They all lived happily ever after.