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Archive for April, 2013

The Gospel Safety Net

April 5th, 2013 1 comment

safety netWe are often afraid to look beneath the surface of our lives to discover the true condition of our heart. We hide because we don’t think we’ll be liked or esteemed if we are not strong and all-together.

So what gives us the strength and confidence to be authentic with God and with others?

In a word – the GOSPEL.

What’s the gospel? It means “good news.”

I love the way Pastor Peter Scazzero explains it in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church:

“The gospel says you are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared to believe, yet you are more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope because Jesus lived and died in your place.”

I am valued, loved and accepted by Jesus Christ. My righteousness is separate from anything I do. I am righteous because Jesus, the sinless One, took my place and died for me.

The gospel creates a safe environment for me to look below the surface. I don’t have to be something I’m not. I don’t have to prove that I’m loveable or valuable. I don’t have to be right all the time.

God sees the 90% of the iceberg below the surface and He still loves me!

A revelation of God’s free grace gives us the courage to face the painful truth about ourselves. The gospel, like a safety net, is there to catch me if I fall. With the net firmly in place, I can begin to explore the painful areas of my heart while I allow the Lord to transform me into His likeness!

Going Beneath the Surface

April 2nd, 2013 No comments

iceburg

While the Church should be a greenhouse for healthy relationships, it is often a place where we are content with growing plastic flowers. We are often guilty of trying to compartmentalize our faith, acting one way at church and behaving in a totally different way at home or work.

Fortunately, this artificial, compartmentalized spirituality is not what we encounter when we read the Scriptures. We see real people who are brutally honest with God, with themselves and with others. They are wrestling with painful emotions, raw feelings and the brutal realities of life in a fallen world.

They were willing to go beneath the surface.

To really get healthy, we have to be willing to move beyond the surface issues to the deeper matters of the heart.

Religious people are great at emphasizing the wrong things. Do you remember Jesus’ confrontational encounters with the Pharisees? He was continually challenging them to move beyond mere appearances to address the deeper issues of their hearts.

25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Matthew 23:25-28, NLT

God hates religious phoniness and pretense. The fact is, we are all sick to some degree. We all need a physician. Jesus said to the Pharisees:

“It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:31-32)

Can you hear the sarcasm in these words? Jesus’ point was clear – there are no healthy people. Just sick sinners in need of a Savior. This is why Jesus often asked, “Do you want to be made whole? (John 5:6)

Jesus went below the surface, moving beyond mere words and external actions to discover the motivating force behind the external behavior.

Jesus tried to refocus people to the “whys” lurking beneath the outside behavior.

Here are some great “why” questions you can ask yourself:

• Why am I always in a hurry?

• Why am I impatient?

• Why am I so anxious?

• Why am I so concerned that others tell me I’m okay?

• Why do I have such a hard time relaxing?

• Why do I discipline my kids in anger?

• Why am I over-concerned that I succeed in my job or ministry?

• Why do I avoid confronting difficult people at church or work?

• Why am I depressed?

• Why is there a knot in my stomach?

• Why am I suffering from tension headaches & insomnia?

Emotional health comes when we are willing to take the time to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us about the deeper issues driving our activity. Give Him permission to go beneath the surface.

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