Taming the Inner Critic

 

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I love to be with people, but in small groups. It’s just how I’m wired. I love leading and facilitating Bible studies and other types of small groups, but I have a “favorite” number for group size – five to seven. That’s where I’m most comfortable. Oh, and it’s really comfortable when I actually already know one or two in the group pretty well. It gives me comfort and security. Needless to say, I’m an introvert. It’s how God designed me.

But, in my life God has asked me to get out of that place of comfort and share my life with bigger groups. It’s quite scary. I’ve said “yes” many times and I didn’t faint, get sick, or die. I know I’ve felt sick, but it didn’t happen. I have God and His strength to thank for that. However, I don’t come away from those uncomfortable situations to a place of joy and peace, thinking to myself “oh how God used me. It was wonderful!” I come from those places with my own inner critic screaming at me saying things like, “What you said was confusing. That didn’t go so smoothly. You should have done better. On and on and on my own inner voice goes.”

How grateful I am to be in a better place of understanding this about myself: I have a strong inner critic that God wants to tame. And, he’s in the taming business! So what are some things I’m learning?

  • There are times I won’t be at my best, and it’s okay. When God calls me to a new place where there’s some stretching going on in me, there is never any need for beating myself up because it didn’t go perfectly. Give myself grace. It will go better next time, if there’s a next time.
  • Accept that no matter what, I am Christ’s beloved. That’s the only thing that really matters.
  • Give thanks to God when He shows me something I need to correct in my life. It’s out of love He shows it to me. He’s not pointing it out to beat me up or condemn me. He’s revealing it to me so I can grow up more.
  • I am me and His design in me is good. So, there is no need to ever compare and compete with anyone else.
  • I ask God to show me how to replace those critical remarks I make to myself with life giving thoughts. He will do it.

Thank you, God, that even as I ponder and write these words, I realize more and more how easy it is to fall back into living in a “me centered” place instead of in a new creation place. Although I’m never perfect, help me to always make forward movement that brings greater freedom in Christ .

To what new place is God taking you? How are your getting there? What are you learning on the journey?

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Where to Find Significance

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The 2016 Olympics came to a close a few days ago. At the close of the events, I came away totally in awe of what these young, and even not so young, accomplished. They sacrificed so much in order to get their bodies ready for these competitions. I can’t help but wonder what it will be like when they get back to the real world. Many say they’re going on vacation to rest and relax. Well deserved!!

Some will start preparing for the next Olympics. Others will now start a new season which doesn’t include competing again. One thing we all know. There will be a day when no one in this year’s group will return. Our bodies finally wear down. No one can have a fit Olympic body forever.

It’s evident they’ve run on adrenaline for a substantial length of time and for most there will be quite a let down when the emotional high has worn off. Hopefully, they’ve all prepared for the moment of returning to those ordinary mundane days of working, studying, taking care of family, even needing to decide what to do next.

Two American divers, David Boudia and Steel Johnson, gave the key to dealing with the jolt of unsustainable elation followed by real-world reality. They just achieved an incredible victory—winning the silver medal for synchronized diving. But David and Steel know where real success lies; more importantly they know significance. They know a significance, an inner peace, an identity that is not dependent upon any career, any medal, any fame, any role, any man’s applause, any natural gift or ability, any human relationship, any perfectly fit and good looking body.

The key of lasting significance that continues into eternity is found in one thing and one thing only – a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ. These divers both discovered that their identity in Christ is the only thing that matters. They know that it is in Christ that true peace, joy and purpose are found.

Boudia experienced the enormous pressure that comes with being in the limelight of competing for an Olympic Medal. When asked by a reporter what it meant to win the silver medal, he said, “When my mind is on this (diving), and I’m thinking I’m defined by this, then my mind goes crazy. But we both know that our identity is in Christ.” Johnson said he, too, went into the event knowing that the root of his identity was in Christ. Because of that he was able to have peace and enjoy the contest. What wisdom these two young men have!

To many people, the thought of having an identity in Christ is a foreign idea. Either they’ve not thought about it or they haven’t been taught. But, this is a biblical idea. In reality, it’s a foundational truth of one’s relationship with God through Christ Jesus. So what does this identity in Christ mean? Who am I? Who are you?

  • A person created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27
  • A person God designed with unique gifts, abilities, talents that are to be used in His Kingdom work in our homes, communities, and church. Hebrews 13:21
  • A person perfectly loved by God. Jeremiah 31:3
  • A person perfectly valued by God. Psalm 139:13,
  • A person perfectly accepted by God. Psalm 139:14
  • A person who can bring glory to God through inward devotion to Him and outward actions. 1 Corinthians 10:32
  • A person who is blessed. Ephesians 1:3

How are we to live out our lives with these indelible truths? We live in growth. We live in the Word. We submit to His Lordship. We rehearse the Truth. That is, we read daily the truths mentioned above. We live in the power of the Holy Spirit and trust Him to transform us to be more like Jesus everyday.

Where are you? Are you living out these truths that develop us into being the person God designed us to be? If so, we can change our world. Jesus in us, the hope of glory!

 

The Most Important Message

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“Stay here awhile, so that I may give you a message from God.” These were the words Samuel spoke to Saul when the time had arrived for Samuel to let Saul in on the news that he would become king of Israel. Messages in the Old Testament were delivered through prophets of God. What a blessing and privilege it is to live during the time when we have the written Word that speaks to us personally. We don’t have to depend on another person to deliver a concise message to us. It’s a message I can find. It is here. It is easy to find. God’s Word says, “This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach.” Deut. 30:11.

This message is in the most important book ever written: the Bible This book has the message we all need to hear over and over: God loves me. God loves you.

If we have gone to church all of our lives we have probably heard the message “God loves you” so much that it has lost its meaning. Familiarity can bring complacency. Familiarity can steal joy. Familiarity can cause us to take things or people or even God for granted. But, the message God loves you, God loves me is the most important message there is. It’s this message that is central to the Bible.

This is the message of truth that when believed, accepted, and lived out will bless me beyond measure and allow me to be a blessing to others. I will not understand God, the reason He sent Jesus, nor have joy in this life without drinking in the meaning of this perfect love. The truths in Ephesians 1 and Psalm 139 say it all:

  • I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.
  • I am blessed because I am God’s child.
  • I am redeemed.
  • I am forgiven.
  • I am perfectly loved just as I am, flaws and all.
  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • I am precious to God.
  • I have purpose.
  • I am cared for by the One who created me.
  • I am important to the One who created me.
  • I am understood by the One who created me.

May we immerse ourselves in these truths over and over until they run through every vein, pumping life into the depths of our soul. There we will find joy, peace, and freedom that we’ve never known before.