Believe in Yourself! Seriously?

Photo by Sam Mugraby - Photos8.com

It is the mantra of our day. From the earliest of ages our children are showered with the believe in yourself message. “You can go anywhere, accomplish anything. The ability lies deep within you. All you need to do is draw it out. Believe in yourself.” This, according to our world, is the foundation of change.

Too often we think that negative circumstances, other people, even the devil, are at the cause of our ills. If only these will go away, our lives will be better. The believe in yourself message rises higher, telling us to focus on what we are able to do, as opposed to what’s been done to us.

The message sounds good. The message feels good. One BIG problem. Self-sufficiency is an enemy of the human soul, and most certainly the arch enemy of God. In a self-sufficient world, God is unnecessary. Not a favorable state!

Adam & Eve were painfully deceived by the Great Lie, which essentially proclaimed, “You will be like God apart from God.” Its subtle hiss continues to tickle the ears of humanity even to this day.

Are we better to wallow in a victim mentality? No. Doesn’t work. Should we live in a world of self-condemnation, constantly focused on our shortcomings and inabilities? Not a good idea either. But there is an element to all of this that far outweighs all others. The very presence of God in the life of a Christian!

To enter into a New Covenant relationship with our Creator is to enter a union of oneness through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The very life of God dwells within us! Park on this thought for a while and see if it doesn’t spark something deep within your soul. And He promises to never leave or forsake us!

The message of the Gospel is far greater, far more powerful, far more life-changing than “believe in yourself.” Within the heart of every Christian dwells His ability to do far more than we could ever ask or think, but one of the keys to tapping into this potential is to come to an end of ourselves. It’s not until we know that we can’t, that can becomes a reality.

At the core of our human dysfunction is the boast. It flows freely from prideful hearts intent on dethroning and supplanting our benevolent Creator. Such pride has produced immeasurable pain and destruction in our world.

You may indeed be able to accomplish a significant task by believing in yourself. But the celebration of your success will focus on what you, from within yourself, have been able to do—and the long-term fruit will be rotten to the core.

Do you find yourself standing at the border of change, longing for potential to become reality? Then surrender your self—your self-will and your self-sufficiency in particular. Believe in God–and He will provide you with sufficient grace to overcome any obstacle!

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God, Why?

Photo from Wikipedia

Have you ever asked, “Why?” I often wonder why God does some of the things He does. Some people mistakenly think that God is the source of natural disasters and every type of human tragedy. News flash: God doesn’t have a cruel streak!

At the same time, however, our Heavenly Father does have this tendency to lead His children into difficult places. Consider the Israelites’ entrapment by the Red Sea. And then their journey into the desert without food or water. God initiated all of that!

And why did Jesus tell us to pray to the Father, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (ESV)? Surely there is a reason for this particular aspect of a prayer that so many lift before God week in and week out.

Make no mistake—our loving Father is trying to prove and establish us as a people of integrity—that is wholeness. Matthew 6:13 might make more sense put this way: “And please don’t lead us into difficult trials where our faith and devotion will be sorely tested and proven, but do deliver us from our own evil tendencies toward self-sufficiency.”

The last thing that God wants is for us to fall prey to sin. But the one thing He always seeks to accomplish is the firm establishment of our faith. Trust cannot exist without faith. And relational intimacy never happens apart from trust. And wholeness, most certainly, is impossible apart from relational intimacy with our loving Creator.

Have you ever thought that perhaps God leads us into desolate, impossible circumstances in order to teach us to look to Him? Resting the weight of our confidence on others apart from God is idolatry–simply put. Trusting in ourselves is nothing more than a return to the original sin (the desire to be like God apart from God). Both idolatry and self-sufficiency corrupt our lives with bitter, poisonous roots.

Stepping out in ministry I have been living by faith for 12+ years—especially the past 4 with the launch of Search for Me Ministries, Inc. I can’t count how many times I’ve said in a tight spot, “God, if you make me independently wealthy, I would do this for free and fund it all myself.” Ah! That’s exactly the problem! I would do it all myself—in my own strength and with my own ability—if I could.

The only thing that compels me to avoid self-trust is to find myself in situations and circumstances that are beyond my human ability (and therefore considered impossible). Herein lies the wisdom (and beauty) of the wilderness experience. Through the Lord’s Prayer Jesus is sending us a message: “Put no trust in yourselves and your ability to handle difficult circumstances. Turn from self-sufficiency and put the full weight of your trust in your heavenly Father and His covenant love.”

God’s promise is that He will never fail or forsake us. The desolate and impossible terrain of the wilderness sends the opposite message. Depending upon our response, the final products are fear, anxiety, hardness and bitterness, or a deep-rooted transformation into a Holy Spirit-watered life. The potential outcome almost makes me want to say, “Bring on the wilderness!” Having been around the block a few times, however, I’ll wisely stick with, “And lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.”