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Honest Evaluation

Written by: Bill Sparks Posted on: August 24, 2018 Blog: Thoughts along the way

As I sit reading the words below, I realized that I often rely on my own efforts to get me through life. Read these words from Max Lucado's book, "Traveling Light" and I will meet you on the other side with a few observations...

"Raise your hand if any of the following describes you.

You are at peace with everyone. Every relationship as sweet as fudge. Even your old flames speak highly of you. Love all and are loved by all. Is that you?

You have no fears. Call you the Teflon toughie. Wall Street plummets - no problem. Heart condition discovered - yawn. Does this describe you?

You need no forgiveness. Never made a mistake. As square as a game of checkers. As clean as grandma's kitchen. Is that you? No?

Let's evaluate this. A few relationships are shaky. You have fears and faults. Hmmm. Do you really want to hang on to your chest of self-reliance? Sounds to me as if you could use a shepherd."

Wouldn't it be nice if all this were true of us. No problems. No hurts.

But as Max pointed out, it's not.

Now, I am wondering if you've had this happen.

I have been so blinded by my own ambition that I would have answered those questions differently at some points in my life.

Has your attitude ever been tilted in this direction? Here is how it looked when my attitude didn't match the truth...

First statement from Max, "You are at peace with everyone." My response. .."of course Lord, those who I am not at peace with, don't like me (disagree with me, don't understand me, or even get along with me) are just not right with YOU. If they were, they would see from the scripture (book, truth, quote from author, political position) I shared with them that they need to change (repent, get right with you, get revival). I'm not the problem, they are. I praise you that I am "right" with you Lord.

OUCH. That hurts just remembering those attitudes. Sadly, if I am not on my guard, they can resurface.

How about Max's second statement. "You have no fears". My response. "Lord, my stomach hurts, I have headaches, and I'm feeling a little on edge today." Let me state for the record, before you send me a hateful or disparaging email or leave a comment, I am not saying all stomach, headache and other physical anomolies are from having fears. But let's be honest, have you ever felt "out of sorts" before something important or stressful only to feel better after the event happened? If so, you may need to listen to the diagnosis I received years ago, "there is nothing wrong with your stomach, I believe it's anxiety." Now over time, I've had some issues with my stomach. But I have learned that I am my own worst enemy and these natural abnormalities are only heightened and more difficult to face when I am struggling with anxiety. What brings me anxious thought and responses? Whatever I allow to control my thinking, my attitude, and my beliefs when I am not in control of the outcome.

Now, this last "Max statement" may not take as much convincing, unless you've reached perfection. "You need no forgiveness." The sad state of affairs is that some of us now 'wink" at sinful attitudes by couching them in religious terms. We call ourselves "sanctified" and now our "sins" no longer are sins. I won't elaborate, but I can tell you that I've struggled with a "holier than thou" attitude. I have been guilty of making excuses for my number one are of sinful behavior, being unloving towards others. Jesus said, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” ** So, which one do you have more trouble with? Loving God or Loving your neighbor? Me too.

Everyone of these attitudes reveal a sense of self reliance.

A belief that I have to help God sometimes.

The misguided thought that grace isn't enough to make me what I need to be for God. My efforts are needed.

I guess I really am in need of a shepherd... because of this, I will confess...

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. ***

Will you join me?

till next time...

** Matthew 22:37-40 NLT

*** Psalm 23

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