Joy Stealer - Self-Sufficiency

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Joy Stealers – Self-Sufficiency

I got up this morning and poured a hot cup of coffee into my new mug from Christmas. I read my Bible and wrote in my journal. I read my email and contemplated how I would find the time to finish all of the tasks I needed to get accomplished today. I made breakfast and I got myself ready for the day.

Now, re-read the sentences abovethey all began with one key word…”I. If were honest with ourselves we all come to realize that in America we live lives that dont require much faith. I didnt wake up this morning wondering where I was going to get waterI poured plenty into the coffee pot to make my morning cup. I didnt fear opening my Bible because I know I live in a country where Im free to do so in the privacy of my own home. I didnt worry about whether my children and I would have enough food. Food is plentiful and the grocery store is conveniently down the street if there was ever a temporary famine in my home.

It is easy to forget about God as we go through the motions of the day. It is easy to forget that in Him all things consist and He holds all things together (Colossians 1:16). It is easy to forget he alone is our provider, deliverer, restorer and sustainer. It is easy because we are very self-sufficient. We thrive on self-esteem, self-improvement, self-actualization and self-help. (keyword self)

The mother of all self-sufficient women was Eve. Sometimes I try visualizing what it would be like to live in Edena place unhindered by modern-day worries and stresses. No rush hour traffic, no cell phones, no emails, no two-year old having a tantrum in the back seat while youre trying to make a u-turn. (not that Ive experienced that or anything). Even without all of the pressures of life, Eve still chose independence over dependence on God. She wanted to be like God and take care of her problems (as if she had any) on her own. She wanted to be a self-made woman.

We still bear the consequences of Eves decision. But, through the amazing grace that God gifted us with, and the mercy He showed to us by sending His son Jesus to die for our sins once and for all, we can trust God with our lives. However, we often run ahead of him when prayer is unanswered and when our goals seem attainable by our own means.

Back to my morning routingIt all came crashing with a mighty force today! I had been juggling so many balls in the air that even circus clowns would have bowed a knee to my awesomeness. But then came the final blowone final requestone final check box on my to do list and I LOST IT!

I cried out to God and in His sweet, still, small voice he said Youre empty.Only I can fill you.

So began the end of my self-sufficiency. I needed to be filled by HIM. I needed to be guided by HIM. I needed to be changed from the inside out by HIM. I needed to adjust my attitude because of HIS grace, by HIS love and with HIS power.  (keywords: I NEEDED HIM)

It takes a lot for a self-sufficient woman to say she is needy, but there was nothing left of me! He wanted it that way so he could do the transforming work He needed to do in me today. My energy from that point of surrender soarednot because of another cup of coffee but because I laid down the self-sufficient wonder woman bit to my loving, heavenly Father. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I was reminded of His attributesHis greatness, His vastness, His enoughness along with my weakness, my finiteness and my emptiness apart from Him.

I pray you cast your burden on Him today because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). I pray you take captive every thought into obedience to His truth (2 Corinthians 10:5). I pray you worship Him today knowing that He holds your life in His hand (Daniel 5:23) and He knows you intimately (Psalm 139:1). I pray His grace would be sufficient for you today (2 Corinthians 12:9)!

If you need to be reminded of His attributesHere is a great video for you:

Joy Stealer – Perfectionism

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Joy Stealer – Perfectionism

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” –Isaiah 26:3

Funny how starting a blog somehow makes you feel like you have to be an expert at blogging. I spent the last 3 days researching and reading what the Bible had to say about joy. I wanted to not only express myself but also impress my audience. I wanted everything to be right, true, accurate and, shall we sayPerfect!

Its the perfectionist in me that wants my day well-planned, my home well-ordered and my children well-behaved. Its also that same perfectionistic streak that struggles to begin a project, procrastinates in the planning process and then never finishes what I start. Why? Because it has to be just perfect.* For example:
  • Before I can join a gym I have to lose 10 pounds to fit into my cute gym clothes (God forbid I might actually look ridiculous sweating in my fat clothes).
  • My diet needs to start Monday (not Wednesday or Tuesday). Monday is a perfect day to start. After allGod started at the beginning didnt He?
  • Ill start on that writing project once I have everything completely organized (my home, my family, my sock drawer, and (while Im at it) my tax returns from 2003).

Can you identify with any of these statements? Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. At first glance its not a bad thing. I mean, dont we serve a perfect God? Dont we want to be more like Christ? Of course! But perfectionism left unchecked can be paralyzing. It masks itself with good intentions and steadfast resolve while hiding pride, idolatry, vanity, self-righteousness and fear of failure. It cripples us by focusing the attention on ourselves rather than our amazing God who keeps us in perfect peace when our hearts are focused on Him.

Im thankful I dont have to impressIm not here to be perfect but to point you to the one who is perfect. Christs love for you is perfect. When He pours His perfect love into your imperfect heart, the result is joyexceeding joy! Im thankful that He accepts me; my mistakes and limitations. He sees how undone I am and still holds out open arms gently whispering come to me you who are weary and heavy burdened. (Matthew 11:28)

His peace is waiting for you too. He wants to fill you with joy in His presence. Lay down the burden of perfectionism and know that Jesus wants to take everything that is imperfect about you and replace it with his righteousness. John 15:9-11 says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Joy is complete when we are complete in Him alone…not in our own pious, empty efforts.

Lord, I want to experience your joy again. Please help me to lay aside my need to be perfect. I confess I have been consumed with the cares of this world. Forgive me and cleanse me. Fill my imperfect heart with your perfect peace, love and joy so that I may be a blessing to others. Help me to accept others as you accept me: broken and imperfect. I love you and thank you for your love for me! In Jesus name, Amen!

* Editors Note: As I write this Im staring at a massive pile of laundry and a stack of unopened mailAnd my diet will begin on Tuesday!

Joy Stealers

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
"Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God." -Robert Schuller
Joylessness is often fueled by thought processes that are happening below our level of consciousness. I want to unpack and expose some common "joy stealers" over the next few months. (By the way "stealers" is not a word...for those of you with perfectionistic/analytic on!) The enemy of our souls wants us to stay bound in our joylessness by using common and uncommon tactics. Nevertheless, I want to expose the lies we tend to believe about ourselves and our faith that steals our joy and hope; ultimately putting a wedge between us and our creator.

Common Joy Stealers (the obvious ones):

Physical Pain

Uncommon Joy Stealers (The not-so-obvious ones):

Lack of Contentment