The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Have you ever stopped to think about just what goes on inside your head throughout the moments in your day? In the morning as you stumble out of bed, running late because last night you thought it would be a grand idea to get in one more episode of your favorite show on Netflix . You get to the pharmacy to pickup your medication and there’s one person at the front who should have just gone into the store instead of holding up the entire drive through. Next you miraculously make it to your favorite coffee shop in time for your barista to make your coffee. Stop and pause for a moment to take notice of what you tell yourself and the thoughts which so quickly run through your head. These thoughts, the things you say to yourself, and the feelings buried within the thoughts are what I would call internal dialogue.

Stories

Now take a moment to stop and think about this internal dialogue. What type of things do you tell yourself each day? Think through your day-to-day and examine what type of fears cross your path. Have you ever left the house for work or to head off to school and you start to think things like, “Did I turn off the oven when I left the house?” Or maybe it’s not the oven, maybe you wonder if you locked your car or closed the garage. Your question could be a number of things. Maybe the questions for you are different.

Do you ever pray for things and you do not get the answer you were seeking? Maybe you did not get an answer at all. This lack of answer can cause you to think or feel things about God or about yourself. What I have begun to study in these scenarios are the thoughts, feelings and assumptions which surround these moments. These collective thoughts, feelings, and assumptions are what I will call stories. Individually, these seem like small, insignificant, unrelated things, but collectively they tell a story.

Defining Our Reality

These stories we tell ourselves quickly become our truth and ultimately our reality. They shape what we believe and ultimately how we live or what we do. Take the unanswered prayer scenario. Out of hurt, the lack of clear answer might cause one to think, does God really care about these small things? Do I really matter to God? Out of hurt or disappointment we tend to think some pretty crazy things. If we are not careful, these feelings or thoughts can gain a foothold in our lives. Before we know it, our brain is doing what it was designed to do. It is looking for confirmation to reinforce these thoughts or feelings.

Let’s Get Practical

So what can we do to address these things practically?

public.jpeg

Seek God.

I would start by seeking God asking questions like, God show me thoughts or feelings which I’m thinking which set themselves up against your truth. I would also pray through Psalm 139:23. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

Identify One Lie

Second, I would also start by identifying one lie you are telling yourself. Think this does not apply to you? This may be the first lie you need to address. Look at the things you fear and ask, what am I saying by believing in this fear? What can I do to keep from allowing this fear to be true in my life?

Replace the Lie With Truth

As believers, our ultimate source of truth is in the Bible. As you read the Bible, ask God to show you scripture which disproves the lie. Write down the versus He shows you and find a way to commit them to memory. Use a sticky note on your mirror, put one on your desk at work or somewhere in your car. Recite the verse out loud and in your mind. Repeat this until you no longer need the sticky note.

Congratulations!

If you have made it this far, congratulations! This is tough! So pat yourself on the back. Give yourself credit for being willing to look internally at the things you are telling yourself. Praise and thank God for all He is doing! Now repeat the process!

public.jpeg

Seeds of Deception

Photo by  Clint McKoy  on  Unsplash

Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash

Have you ever stood beside something so large and wondered how it ever grew to be what it is today? Standing next to one of these redwood trees is enough to make anyone feel a bit small. It is enough to put things into a different perspective. When you stop to think of where this massive redwood tree began, you are taken to a tiny little seed like in the picture. It is hard to imagine that something so large could start with something so small.

I recently sat down to go through Chazown in order to seek God on His vision or dream for my life. I had gone through the teaching a few times before, so this was more of me reexamining what God had shown me in years prior. I was seeking to clarify a few things and make sure I was headed in the right direction. I was going through part of the exercises in the course which have you examine key events, people and past experiences which have had an impact on your life.

redwoodSeed.jpg

A part of this exercise has the participants write down these items on sticky notes and arrange them into chapters. As I was going back over these chapters I started to look back at one particular chapter where God was pointing me. As I began to review this chapter, I started to see a distinct pattern which I had never seen before. I began to see these ideas which were introduced early in my life which were complete garbage.

Seeds

These ideas were more than just ideas. The lies initially were very small and seemingly innocent, much like the seeds of a redwood. So I began the process of naming the lies and asking God how I ever started believing what I will refer to as seeds or lies. I use the word lies, but they were much more crafty or cunning than what I let on. These were small and very deceptive in nature. Funny thing is they seemed like they came from my own thoughts. .

Each of these seeds started very small and each seemed innocent enough at the beginning. Fast-forward to today, what I found looking back was that these seeds were no longer small or innocent. One was figuratively the size of a redwood tree. I could look back and see the events in my life which had reenforced the validity of the initial idea. I could even see other events which served to help the idea gain acceptance in my life.

I now found myself staring at this massive lie which has now taken up residency in my life. If you were to stand under it like a redwood tree, you might gaze with awe upon its majesty. It is now the primary root of my anxiety and contributes regularly to overwhelming fear. The scary thing is that it was not content to stay the same. As it grew, it manifested into anxiety and depression. At one point the anxiety from this seed overwhelmed me. And to think It all started by entertaining an innocent idea.

public.jpeg

Start With Love

Photo by  Clem Onojeghuo  on  Unsplash

There is so much written regarding the subject of love that I often wonder why, as followers of Jesus, we do not spend more time or effort on the subject of love. Love is a very broad topic and to try to address it appropriately, I believe one should take time to focus on the different parts. It is easy for us to simply focus on what gets a lot of our attention which is romantic love. I am not so interested in writing about romantic love, so I will focus on what is commonly known as agape love.

Start with the Basics


As new followers of Jesus, it is interesting to observe what we focus on or what we are told to focus by other, more seasoned believers who have placed their faith in Jesus. I began my journey as a follower of Jesus at the young age of eight years of age. I was raised in what many would classify as a very traditional Southern Baptist Church in a suburb of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where we had “big church” and “Sunday School” each week. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, I share the details to provide context.

I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior in a Sunday church service where I responded to an invitation to follow Christ. I did so by standing and walking down a church aisle to the front of the room where the alter was located. I was greeted by a pastor who discussed with me what accepting Jesus meant. After hearing what he had to say, I eagerly said yes to following Jesus and began my journey as a follower of Jesus Christ.

What followed in the weeks and months to come lead up to being baptized and becoming a regular attender at my church. This was nothing new, as I had attended with my parents for as long as I can remember. Of all the things I remember about the beginning of my faith, these are the parts that are most clear. And while I certainly do not think this approach was a bad one or the wrong one, I want to purpose what I believe would radically change things for many believers today.

I believe that understanding what it means to accept or follow Jesus is crucial to a new believer’s journey, period. However, I would purpose that what believers should do differently following the basics of what it means to follow Jesus is that we should start with love. If we really would look at what is important to Jesus then I think it is clear that Love is a core component of what it means to follow Jesus.

After the Basics… Start With Love

Of all the things we could possibly focus on with new followers of Jesus, the greatest thing we could do to point them in the right direction is to focus their attention on love. More specifically, our perfect example, the selfless love of Jesus. When asked about the most important things for believers Jesus responded with love. In Matthew chapter 22 verse 36, the Pharisees were questioning Jesus about what is most important. “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Now keep in mind that the intentions of the Pharisees in this passage are not good, but we learn so much from the answer Jesus provided.

In verse 37, we see Jesus’ response to the Pharisees manipulative question. “Jesus replied, ‘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 out of everything Jesus could have said in this pivotal moment, He spoke about love.

The priorities of Jesus were simple, Love God and Love Others. So out of everything we could or maybe should throw at new followers of Jesus, we should start with love. In the days and weeks to come, I will attempt to learn more about love. I will do my best to appropriately share what I learn along this journey. I hope you will come alongside me as we learn about what it means to Start with Love.