They're People Not Stuff

Ever heard the expression “Use stuff, not people”?

Seems strange that it is something that needs to be said, but I think all of us have at times struggled with this idea.

I don’t think it’s an evil intention we have, I think it’s typically rooted from a deep need or fear that we have that causes us to do things we normally wouldn’t do.

For instance, if we feel really insecure about something, we might want to surround ourselves with people who are encouraging.

That’s good!

The problem comes in when we treat that person as a “solution” to our feelings of insecurity, instead of a person that we value, that we want to encourage, and that we’re thankful they encourage us.

The first scenario sees the person as a means to meet their need; the problem is, that’s using them. That’s treating them like stuff.

The second scenario sees a person’s value and is thankful for their contribution to their life, and enjoys contributing to them in turn.

1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace”

God designed us to be givers, and receivers! We are meant to serve each other, to give to each other, to encourage each other!

That means, we are meant to receive, it’s good to receive!

But we are also meant to give, it’s good to give!

When we walk in our relationships remembering to both give and receive from others, we are walking in relationship like God intended for us to. But when we look at people’s gifts, when we look at people as a means to meet a need we have, that goes against God’s design for them and for you.

Let’s choose to LOVE and SERVE people, and USE stuff; not the other way around!

Destroyed All the Way to Dust

When I was younger, I played this older video game called Stronghold. It was a game about knights and kings and all that. In order to win the game, you needed to two things… one needed a wall strong enough to keep your enemy out; and two, you had to be strong enough to break through your enemies wall.

Because of my time playing this game, whenever I read passages in Scripture that mention “Strongholds” that’s the picture that comes to my mind. A castle, a barracks for the soldiers, an armory for your weapons, and a big stone wall to keep the enemy out.

For instance, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

This passage of Scripture is so awesome… but there are a couple words worth expounding on to help us see just how awesome it is.

Here are the ones I want to focus in on:

Divine Power - God Ability

Destroy - Pulverize down to dust

Arguments - Logical Conclusion

Lofty Opinion - Things or People that we put in an inappropriately elevated place

So, God has given us weapons with GOD ABILITY to PULVERIZE DOWN TO DUST every LOGICAL CONCLUSION or PERSON/THING WE ELEVATE IN A WAY WE SHOULDN’T whenever it stands in the way of us knowing God, and His heart toward us.

I share this, because I think there are things God is wanting to offer us, that we either don’t understand, or aren’t fully walking in.

I have often looked at struggles in my life, and assumed the way God would help me, is with my effort and discipline over many years. It never dawned on me, that God wanted to destroy those struggles in such a way, that pulverizes it down to dust.

There are so many more great things than can be said on this topic, but I will focus in on this for now.

God is far better than we know, God is far more able than we know, God’s help is far more powerful than we know.

Let’s begin to look to Him, and allow Him to show us, what He really wants to do in our life. I think we’ll all be very pleasantly surprised!

So if you’re facing some strongholds in your life, patterns of thinking that tear you down, patterns of judgement toward others that puts space between you and people you love, patterns of assuming the worst about God… take those to God this week.

Simply take some time alone, get away to somewhere quiet, and ask Him to help you to see things clearly, to see things the way He wants you to, ask Him to DESTROY those strongholds in your heart and mind.

He’s so good, He’ll do it, and not leave even a small trace of that old way of thinking. You’ll see just how great a work God can do!

Free to Feel Good

These last couple weeks have been a really awesome and interesting season for me. I have been experiencing some really cool new perspectives and what I would call “break through” in my thinking and thought patterns.

In short, it’s been rad.

One thing I’m learning in this season, is how real and tangible the renewing of our mind is.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Transformed by the renewal of your mind… that’s a promise for every believer.

This passage has taken on a whole new meaning to me. We are not to be conformed to the world, but rather, we are to be transformed BY the renewal of our mind.

I have always thought of the passage to say, don’t be convinced by the world’s perspective, instead, work to be disciplined, letting your mind slowly be transformed and renewed.

My experience of late has been so drastically different from that idea.

God has been, by His love, reaching into my heart and mind and helping me to see things from a brand new, and right perspective.

He is literally renewing my way of thinking, my way of seeing Him, my way of seeing myself; because of this, I am being transformed.

We are transformed BY the renewing of our mind. We are transformed because of His work in us.

I’m not sure where you are, and what you are wrestling with right now; for me it has been mostly in the area of thinking connected to my own value, and misinterpreting His heart and perspective toward me.

He is showing me how valuable I am to Him; He is showing me how He desires to be near to me, and how happy He is when I draw near to Him.

That, is transforming my life.

I am moving more and more from a place of trying hard to work hard to please Him, into a place of feeling free to feel good about who I am in Him, and excited about He sees me.

I encourage you, spend time asking God where your mind may need to be renewed, then trust Him, trust His heart… it will transform your life!

What Kind are You?

I don’t know about you, but I love taking those online tests about “what kind of ____ you are” It could be personality, leader, friend, thinker, or whatever I just love taking them. I don’t think there is anything wrong with them, and some of them can actually give you real insight into how you see yourself, or how others see you. Finding out you’re much more like Dopey or Grumpy, than you are like Happy or Doc can be both eye opening, and even tough to swallow. (Reference to Snow White for the 1% of the population who has never seen it)

But a potentially negative unintended consequence can come from taking these tests; or should I say, spending too much time thinking about them. You begin to live with those definitions, or those boundaries in mind, and they can be a distraction.

Even Spiritual Gift tests; which can be so helpful in finding where God has gifted you, and that is so important, can be a hinderance. You might find yourself in a situation saying ‘no’ to something you shouldn’t have, or saying ‘yes’ to something you shouldn’t have, simply because it fits or doesn’t fit in your spiritual gift “lane”.

I am learning, that as helpful as those tests and inventories may be, what God is really looking for, more than anything, is that we would walk looking to, and listening to Him. So even when you have a teaching spiritual gift, and He’s calling you to share Christ with a young man at a grocery store you say ‘yes’. Or when you have a prophetic spiritual gift, and He’s calling you to help mow your neighbor’s lawn, you say ‘yes’.

Matthew 16:24,25 says, “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’”

Truth is, we are meant to spend more time “losing” our life than we are “finding it.” That doesn’t mean being self-aware and discovering more about how we work is a bad thing. It does mean if we spend a lot of time doing that, and not much of our time learning how to surrender, and set our preferences, priorities, and desires aside in order to follow Him more closely, we are way out of balance.

Jesus made us uniquely and amazingly complex and wonderful. He has such tremendous plans for each of us, and the pathway for us to really “find it” is to set our hearts on Him, putting Him first, allowing Him to direct us, or as He described it, “losing our life”

So let’s be aware of how we were made, let’s discover our spiritual gifts; sure, let’s even learn which dwarf we are, but more than all of that, let’s set our hearts toward Him, allowing Him to define and direct our lives toward Him and His great plans for us.

Why Can't We Get Past It?

This last few weeks there have been several things in my life that keep coming to the surface where I feel a little bit stuck in my thinking or feelings, and I keep asking myself, why?

I don't know about you, but I try to spend a reasonable amount of time looking at my own life, and my own thought processes. I have learned in the past from not doing this well, that un-dealt with issues under the surface will find a way out whether we want them to or not, and usually not in a convenient moment or expression.

I don’t want to be surprised by these, and I don’t want those close to me affected by such surprises.

So, even when I don’t like it, I try to look at what’s going on inside my head and heart.

2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

I think we are meant to spend time looking at what’s going on inside, as well as what our actions look like outwardly as a result of my inward thinking and feeling.

Back to my original thought… if I’m honest, I don’t have any solid answers as to why I am stuck in some of these areas, and I’m not even completely certain what “it” is, but what I do know, is that there is an area that needs a touch from Jesus in my life, and I see it, and I’m asking Him to help me with it, and THAT is a good place to be.

So let me ask you, have you been examining your heart? Are you finding that there are things there that need healing or attention? Don’t be afraid to look, and when and if you find something, take it before Jesus, and allow Him to heal it! He is faithful to do it.