14/04/2016

When Belief Becomes Arrogance

Posted in Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 6:07 am by The Water Bearer

 

Those gifted with faith have always been in the enemy’s firing line, and it is very obvious when someone else persecutes you. But this blog has always been devoted to revealing the hidden enemy, the inner enemies. One area that has impressed itself on my heart recently is the fine line between certainty in faith and arrogance.

Beth Moore said this in a recent series “I don’t mean to sound presumptuous, but you may believe that I only think I know Christ. Let me assure you that I KNOW HIM, I may not have seen Him with my eyes, but every promise has been kept to heal my wounds into marks of Christ. I have a personal relationship with Him. No imaginary friend could have done all He has done for me.”

There is nothing else that compares to the feeling of being certain in faith. Those times when there is nothing anyone can say to make you doubt what you have experienced to be true.  Especially the times God has aligned numerous perfect signs, or given prophesies before they appear, or fulfilled promises when obedience brought them to reality. Certainty in faith like that can be the most wonderful experience known to mankind, and yet it is not without its potential drawbacks.

Inner Enemies seek to destroy all testimony of a loving God with us and in us, doing all they can to cause us to doubt God, to resist Him, to prevent us from having these experiences of certainty. Then, once we experience certainty in faith, they push us further into it. They empower ego and pride, conceit and prejudice. The weakness of our flesh is real, and the lies of the enemy are subtle enough that they are easy to believe. It could be as simple as wishing others believed us, and defending ourselves when they don’t. It could be that our experiences don’t line up with another’s so we may dismiss or doubt the beliefs of another. Inner Enemies attempt to weaken our self-awareness and corrupt our humility, or at the very worse end of the spectrum, may encourage the violent atrocities carried out across the world in the name of religion. Even the Enemies of God have learned how to imitate God so well that many are convinced of their certainty when it is in fact a counterfeit. Just another way to fill the world with confusion about the One True God.

Our desire to know all things is both our passion and our down fall, from the fruit to the future, human’s greed for understanding has been misleading the world. It has driven science to make adamant claims to have discovered a vital new piece of ‘truth’, only to realise much later how far from truth it was. It has driven Christians to divide up into various denominations, each one disputing the beliefs of the next, watering down the effectiveness of God’s message with each new dispute.

In order for us to stay on the fine line towards our Godly calling, my Dad used to explain it like tacking into the wind in sailing.

 

tacking

The Enemies attempt to push us off course, a slight nudge here and slight nudge there, knowing that even just a tiny deviation off course will end us up a long way from our calling. If the Enemies use doubt, guilt, and resistance to keep us on this side of the course we must tack towards the line by seeking out God’s word, God’s truth, building up and exercising our faith. Alternatively during those times we experience certainty in faith, the Enemies push us right over to the other side and use pride to attempt to convince us that there is no longer a need to change, not much more need for growth. Subtle lies that say we have grown enough and we know enough. One side of the course keeps us dull to insights and understanding, while the other pushes us into the arrogance of knowledge. All is a strategy to keep us from pursuing the truth in the word of God, and this is when many may start comparing sins and sinlessness, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. It doesn’t take a genius to see that if radicals saw themselves as equal sinners there would be no one to judge, no one to condemn, no one to make an example of. Only Compassion and the Unity of a world full of sinners who ALL need a Saviour.

Self-awareness and a close relationship with God is the safest way to navigate the course to our destiny. Keeping our humility, recognising that we always have more to learn is vital if we are to tack back away from arrogance. An arrogant testimony is more likely to dissuade unity, and yet we must have confidence if our testimony is to carry any weight. In order to walk the fine line towards our destiny and give compelling testimony along the way, we must stay in the constant presence of God. I pray we all keep up our armour and keep vigilantly tacking against the winds of our Inner Enemies, until God’s purpose is reached in each of our lives.

humble

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22/07/2015

Ignorant Chaos

Posted in Finding Faith, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:48 am by The Water Bearer

Lucy

I watched the blockbuster “Lucy” some time back and enjoyed it immensely. Some of the quotes that came out of it were extremely profound. I will have to do a bit of research to capture all of them but one in particular stood out to me. It was spoken by the main character Lucy, who was unlocking areas of her brain no human had used before. The quote came prompted by Morgan Freeman’s character who stated.. “All this knowledge, Lucy — I’m not even sure that mankind is ready for it. Given man’s nature, it might bring us only instability and chaos.” to which Lucy replies….

“Ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge.”

This quote sits heavily upon me as I look back throughout my life. I recall the many previous ignorant versions of myself that lacked knowledge in certain situations and the chaos that surrounded me. I lived in a perpetual state between insecure co-dependance and arrogant self-righteousness.

While I struggle with arrogance and ignorance from time to time, I have become overwhelmingly grateful for the knowledge that came from each new learning experience and each mentor, helping my life transform to a much more peaceful one. A life where I can accept my short comings and hunger for strength of mind. Learning not only about the world systems, but the spiritual ones and learning about myself and experiencing the unknown.

While I appreciate all this learning, and the ability to research any topic my heart or mind desires, I am aware that there are many who actually avoid knowledge. Some dismiss it, ignore it, some even defend against it.

The scriptures gives us clear guidance towards wisdom.

Proverbs 2:10-11  for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you.

If ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge, is it likely then, that those who reject knowledge, are simply too used to their chaos to want to change it?

I am certain the inner enemy of pride is at play here, by discouraging submission to the wisdom of others, confusing our compass so we choose to dismiss knowledge mistaking it for merely one persons opinion. I admit this form of pride has played its role in my life, how about yours?

I think a major key to receiving learning, is being able to tell the difference between an opinion and knowledge. It is respectful to hear opinions and accept everyone’s right to have their own, and it is also perfectly acceptable to avoid applying opinions you disagree with, but knowledge isn’t an opinion. We must learn to discern where knowledge differs and see the value in it.

Another key to receiving learning is having the humility to be teachable, knowing that as long as we are confined to our earthly walk we will always have something to learn. That even if we know a subject inside and out, there is still the possibility to discover something new about it. I admit it is hard to keep a teachable spirit. It is much easier to stay in one spot, tell yourself you have done enough, you can handle where you are, and not pursue the hard work of change.

Asking the hard questions and being willing to change can be daunting and a long process, however nothing quite compares to looking at yourself after a while and saying “Wow, I have grown. I am different, I am better. How awesome!” It makes the hard work truly worth it.

Knowledge

05/01/2013

Is Sense Really Common?

Posted in General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , at 9:05 am by The Water Bearer

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A friend recently quizzed me, “Where on earth is their common sense?” in the midst of describing someone’s behaviour which she found to be unacceptable. It was coincidental, because I have been pondering a few questions about common sense lately.

How common is sense anymore? What exactly are the common elements of sense? Does common sense even exist? Or does it perhaps keep evolving as the generations change focus on what is sensible?

I had a thought the other day that perhaps common sense might advance as we develop sensitivity to consequences, to become more sensitive to what we feel is right and wrong.

Does it then make sense, that those who appear to have less common sense than others, may have been afforded less understanding of the consequences when faced with their own poor choices? Are those who have lacked productive discipline even aware of the actual repercussions of their actions which lack ‘common sense’?

The wisdom of this generation varies far and wide, some think that it is common sense to ‘block’ someone who bullies you online, yet regardless of the amount of awareness on this subject, many others seem unable to reach this conclusion. A few may recognise that it is common sense to be ready to be a parent when you choose to start having sex, especially if you been told this all your life. Yet so many others are still children who can barely look after themselves when they make this huge decision. Some feel it is common sense not to air dirty laundry on facebook because it gives so many others the opportunity to voice their opinion about the private situation, and that adds fuel to a fire they are already struggling with. We don’t have to look far on our newsfeed to see how uncommon this sense is… It can leave those of us who have “common sense” baffled by the lack of sense those around us display.

I asked my husband, “What do you think is the difference between sense and common sense?” He replied, “I don’t think there is any such thing as common sense!” Wow! I found his straight to the point answer, freeing and mind blowing on so many levels.

Common sense refers to an accepted understanding which everyone knows. Past examples of common sense include ‘the world is flat’ and ‘African Americans only have worth as slaves’. So then assuming everyone knows a wide range of things is a stretch! Isn’t it?

While looking up some examples of common sense I found this quote.

“Don’t confuse lack of common sense with absent mindedness. Common sense refers to deliberate decisions about which you can predict the outcome.” (Ref – Yahoo Answers)

So therefore, is anything we can predict the outcome of (either via our own experience or a logical reasoning) simply sense, or can it become ‘common’ if enough people accept the theory?

So some examples might be; if you go out in the rain you are bound to get wet. Or if you don’t eat you get hungry, don’t drink and become thirsty, don’t sleep and become tired. The really basic stuff may in fact be common sense, yet we often stretch this phrase to accommodate other examples which may not be as common as we have been led to believe.

I personally have learned many valuable lessons and live my life differently because of them. The choices I apply in my life have now become common practice for me so they feel like common sense to me. But can I expect anyone else to have the same sensibilities as me in their own lives? I don’t think so….

All these questions have led me to a couple of theories.

We can no longer assume everyone or anyone knows something that we understand, just because we have believed it for a long time and found others who agree with us. I have lost count of how many things I thought I knew to be true only to discover they were merely a misguided opinion of someone who was certain enough to be convincing.

The idea of adamant common sense may be linked to our childhood, if whoever raised us convinced us, and our other family members, of various ‘reasonings’, then it can be frustrating and confusing when the outside world holds completely different principles to these.

Perhaps it’s time to let common sense and the assumptions we make regarding it, take a back seat to sense from sensitivity and open mindedness, and encourage loving explanations instead of frustrated collisions and unmet expectations?

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27/06/2012

When will we feel ‘Good Enough’?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:06 am by The Water Bearer

So often many of us want to crawl into a hole when faced with the reality that we aren’t perfect. There are so many more complex points I could write on this topic, but in this post I will just try to touch on a few basics. There is a cloudy grey area between being perfect and being good enough, and many of us feel if we fall short of perfection we must not be good enough.  Sure we tell ourselves over and over again the cliche that “Nobody’s Perfect”, we try to convince ourselves that we are ok with that, but it only seems to distract us for a moment and before long we are back wondering how we can feel good enough for longer?

Self-indulgence seems the most common way to distract ourselves for longer, things like overeating, retail therapy, casual sex, drinking, drugs, gambling, any form of a good time that helps us enjoy ourselves and takes our minds away from the disappointment of feeling like a failure. Only problem is all these can leave us with feelings of regret when we either drink too much, spend too much, eat too much, or sleep with someone we wish we hadn’t, making worse the feeling inside that we were trying to deal with in the first place. Other non-destructive ways are also attempted, like being overly ‘good’, perhaps we go on health kicks, take up a new hobby or volunteer for the school P&C, church craft stalls, food vans, fundraising etc. Obviously these are fabulous gestures when coming from the heart for the right reasons, but when they are to distract us from that feeling of still not being good enough we often find the feeling is still there not long after we hang up the Good Samaritan shoes.

I can relate to this in so many ways, in my own private thoughts I always knew what was expected of me, and that it was out of my reach. I had all these desires which I knew I wasn’t meant to have, I too dealt with my emotional thoughts in ways I knew were bad for me. I craved a brief moment of relief, where I could feel good enough already. I believed I knew what was ‘right’, but no matter how hard I tried, I still managed to find myself doing the wrong thing.

Strangely enough, I felt the exact opposite when I compared myself to those around me. If my ‘goodness’ was challenged by anyone, I could quickly dispute their claims by defending and justifying my actions, and pointing out how much worse they were than me. If I ever saw someone do anything ‘wrong’ I stored it in my memory bank, ready to remind them if ever my virtue was challenged.

I teetered between these two states for a number of years, unaware of what I was actually doing. I believe this battle is going on inside many people, and I feel the urge to tell you all that it is a sneaky, deceptive trap.

I was discussing this topic with my dear Sister recently; we were deep in the thick of analysing the elements of right and wrong, guilt and innocence, sin and forgiveness, among other things. I was recalling what our Dad had said to me in my early twenties; those words of his which had helped me see the truth about myself.

He helped me identify the lies I had believed all my life. Do these sound familiar to anyone?

*Good intentions are good excuses for undesirable behaviour;  –

Dad showed me that doing the wrong thing for the right reasons is still the wrong thing (doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is just as bad) Focusing on all the good things we do often, (good deeds, favours, gift giving, praying, loving gestures, hard work, fortitude through suffering etc) must make up for our impatience, our self-importance, bad temper, self-indulgence and emotional tantrums. Dad helped me accept that focusing on the good I saw in me distracted me from owning up to my true flaws, while focusing on the bad in others reinforced the belief that I was good and didn’t need to change.

*If we can convince those around us that we are good enough, and convince ourselves that we are good enough, then that must mean God thinks we are good enough too, right?

Dad showed me that God would in fact rather us be low in reputation, humble and even persecuted by man for His names sake. (He can certainly make us thought of highly by others, but only when it means nothing to us anymore.) In my understanding He does not encourage self-importance. Ordinary Man – Extraordinary God!

*We also fall for that age old trick of building our knowledge, and relying on our own understanding of right and wrong, to help us be more on to it.

Dad reminded me of the tree which Eve ate the fruit from, the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’. Isn’t that the same thing we are doing in this instance? Trying to know what God knows, rather than simply depending on Him?

If we look closely we can see that all these lies aim to convince us to lift ourselves up, in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, as apposed to lifting up God with honour. If we lift ourselves up, trying to meet God in His righteousness, we only get self-righteousness and we make God smaller in our minds.

Obadiah 1:3 says The pride of our hearts deceives us.”

I was so deceived! I thought I deserved forgiveness for my sins because they weren’t ‘that bad’, and I was making up for it in other ways (Saved by works!), yet I came to see that I could only receive forgiveness when my heart became ashamed and was met with Grace. My repentance came by admitting that my heart is prideful, selfish and conceited. I acknowledged my sinful nature and begged for God to understand that I could now see how wrong I was. I came to see that we are all capable of good deeds and bad, and it struck me that if I still found myself doing things I swore I never would, even though I thought I knew what was right, so others must do also. God allowed me to stumble over my own sin so that I would learn to depend on Him for His strength and His righteousness.

By showing Him my willingness to suffer the pain of being unworthy of forgiveness, I began to earn that very forgiveness.

Let me ask you this….

If someone does wrong by us and comes to us demanding we forgive them because they have a good explanation and because they can list a number of ways we were at fault as well. Don’t we feel that they aren’t truly sorry, and will probably just go ahead and do the same thing again in the future? We would be unwilling to forgive and trust them completely, wouldn’t we?

Yet if someone comes to us admitting how wrong they were, bowing their head in shame and saying they understand if we don’t forgive them, stating that they don’t even deserve forgiveness, they just want us to know how very sorry they are for hurting us. Then wouldn’t we feel more inclined to forgive them and allow them to earn back our trust?

Perhaps we could keep these obvious differences in mind when considering how we approach God when looking to receive forgiveness?

“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12)

If someone hurts us or does us wrong and is truly remorseful we need to show forgiveness, because no matter what they have done, we need to remember that it is possible for us to do that very same thing if similar circumstances and weakness occurs in us. By no means am I suggesting we should put ourselves into situations where we allow them to continue to hurt us!  (True change must be evident and trust rebuilt when sharing our vulnerabilities. Another post for another day!) I am suggesting accepting their apology and letting go of the bitterness we feel toward them for their action. If they don’t apologise or acknowledge their faults, then we can assume that they can’t see it or admit it to themselves, just like we couldn’t in our own lack of self-awareness. Even though it is difficult, we can then offer an element of forgiveness and let go of any grudges, because as Jesus said on the cross “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

We are able to be forgiven because of God’s mercy and grace, and because of what Jesus did at Calvary. By acknowledging this we make ourselves tiny in our own eyes and God becomes HUGE! As a fellow blogger The Peaceful Wife put it, ‘My picture of God before was so wimpy and small. I had to see He was big and I was tiny’.  So very true, and I like having a BIG GOD!

Here I was trying to prove how good I was, yet as soon as I admitted how truly wrong I was, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It invited God into my situation and I found Him keeping me from doing things, one by one, that I had been trying not to for so long on my own. I found that many of the things I thought mattered actually didn’t matter at all, I could be released from self-condemnation because of feeling God’s love, and I came to experience genuine moments of inner peace. I still have to keep my heart guarded to discern the pride which tries to creep back in each day, trying to deceive me into covering my sin. Yet I now find it much easier to see myself clearly, by keeping my heart softened to His voice and truth, and try to confess in the instant of awareness.

When we truly repent and run away from pride, we can rejoice in feeling the freedom it brings. Feeling God’s forgiveness, His help, His love, and finally feeling FREE to be GOOD ENOUGH. AMEN!

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