Interactive Flash presentation of the Gospel:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We are mirrors

We are mirrors ... mirrors to our mates, to our children, to our friends, to all those with whom we come in contact.

According to Dennis and Barbara Rainey, authors of "Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem" (c 1986), "We can reflect loving acceptance or withdraw, reflecting rejection. When you see rejection or any lack of acceptance, the result is fear."

Fear is very powerful -- fear of the unknown, the what ifs, what now, why don't, why won't, torment, punishment; when another reflects rejection of you, you then reject yourself, withdrawing inside, and the negativeness starts all over.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment..." (1 John 4: 18)

When we are insecure in our self-worth/self-image/self-esteem and are afraid to reach out, we retreat to our own secret hiding place deep within our mind, and watch and wait.

The images we have of ourselves are formed at an early age. "Our self-concept is actually a cluster of attitudes about ourselves -- some favorable and some unfavorable," says Norman Wright, author of "Improving Your Self-Image."

What is your self-portrait? Do you have feelings of tension, fear, insecurity, self-condemnation? Or are you confident, secure, relaxed? Your self-image plays a significant role in how you individually and as a couple relate. Don't let self-doubt take hold. What you think about yourself as well as what you feel are linked.

Often you hear men say they don't share their feelings. But if/when you pay attention to what they DO say and how they act, their feelings become more apparent to you.

Fear of rejection usually means poor self-esteem. The more fears your mate has the less open he or she will be in a relationship. Need to be built up -- that's hard to do if you yourself also fear rejection. When your fears are ignored by the other, you tend to feel unloved, uncared for, unimportant. Again, you withdraw into self.

"All things are lawful (permissible) for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify (build up). Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being." (1 Corinthians 10: 23-24)

"...comfort each other and edify one another ..." (1 Thessalonians 5: 11)

The Lord does not condemn us, therefore we should not condemn ourselves. Troubles come -- persecutions, famine, floods, tornadoes, yet God remains true and faithful. His love for us is ever present in the midst of great difficulties. You may struggle to love yourself and/or love another, but remember God's love is greater still. ALL that goes on is not enough to overcome God. The Lord overcame the world. No evil can ever supercede the Lord.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8: 35, 37-39)

"If God is for us, who can be against us?
"Who shall bring a charge against God's elect?"
(Romans 8: 31a, 33)
"Who is he who condemns?" (Romans 8: 34a)

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you have been declared righteous by God and He will not condemn you.

It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." (rest of Romans 8: 34)

Because for you Jesus died and rose and lives within you, He will also not condemn you.

A song in the heart puts a smile on the face.

A song in the heart -- our attitude, our inner being ... honesty before God is essential, phoniness is not. People see through what is not real, not genuine.

The people of today remind me much of the Pharisees of Jesus' day. They rejected, ignored the teachings and commandments of God, determining in their hearts the traditions of man were correct. They do their own thing, make their own laws, rules. What the world decides is correct. Who is God? A force we will not reckon with ... no one. Lip service.

A song in the heart puts a smile on the face. ... on Sunday, I wondered where my song was. I felt down, distressed, dismayed, sad. Others too were missing that song, but we are reminded God can give us peace when our whole life is falling apart. There is a reason for everything, but answers do not come as readily as we desire; only in God's time.

Esteem another better than yourself -- but that doesn't mean to tear yourself down. It doesn't mean you are worthless. We are all highly valued by God. He cares for each of us.

We can't make things right all by ourselves. Have to wait for God to make it right. He knows the right time for everything. Leave it in His hands. His purpose for you will come clearer as time progresses.

So, how do you feel about yourself? Are you a positive or negative person? Rainey provides us with clues to how our self-esteem could be inadequate:

1) childhood marked by parental abuse, neglect, ignorance or parents with overbearing authority
2) fears opening up, being real, being vulnerable
3) gets discouraged easily
4) lacks confidence, especially in decision making
5) has difficulty admitting being wrong; always needs to be right, or is unable to forgive
6) driven .... by a deep need for approval
7) is critical of others
8) is a perfectionist
9) is critical of self
10) indulges in escape, fantasyland

"Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?"
(Job 2: 10a)

We drift away ... we don't understand why because we are a child of God. But God never said all would be good and well in life. As it was for Job, so it is for us.

According to the April 29 Our Daily Bread devotional, attitudes that can result in us moving or drifting away, causing us to be selfish, with more negative traits than positive, include:

1) believing we need more than God to be happy
2) placing meaningful relationships above loyalty to God
3) thinking God should live up to our expectations
4) resisting His reproofs
5) turning a deaf ear when His word is uncomfortable

God IS all we need. We often don't discover that until many years into our personal adventure with Him. The trials we undergo, we think we have it worst of all, it can't get much worse. But there is always something else that is worse than what we undergo and there is always a tiny sliver of a silver lining hiding in the midst of every struggle. If we don't see any hope, then perhaps we are not remembering God's promises to us, His truths, His love.

"It's okay -- I've got God." You don't really believe that. It's not okay. It if was okay, having God would be enough.

There are things I think about, things I don't ever want to face, but will have to, at some moment in time. The best I can do is talk to God about my fears, and also ask Him to show me how to get past it all, how to overcome, how to be what He desires of me; how to rest in Him.

David Sper says it well --
"Lord, help me to stay close to you and trust you more each day,
So when the storms of life appear I will not drift away."

To avoid drifting away from God, stay anchored to the Rock.

Truth -- God's truth, not your own. What you think is truth may be very very wrong.

"Then Jesus said, ... If you abide in My word, ... you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
(John 8: 31-32)

Consider, when building up another or yourself ...

* Giving ... when we give, we also receive. When we refuse, when we ignore God's truths, we are succumbing to our feels of negativity, tearing down what we were attempting to build up.

* Understanding ... empathy, being able to see in our mind what another may be feeling through their speech and actions. Listening closely to their concerns, not missing the point.

* Perseverance ... striving to reach the goal

* Sowing and reaping ...
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. ... And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
(Galatians 6: 7, 9)

What are you sowing? hatred, anger, jealousy, complaints, impatience, selfishness? If these, these you will reap. Sow negative, reap the same or positive - positive.

* Teachability ... growing desire to learn; willingness to do what is right

* Accountability ... partnering with another, being needed, showing need for strength posessed by another

* Risk ... taking a chance to allow another to know you

* God-given worth

* Divine sufficiency

Jesus Christ must be at the center of your life.

God will be with you always, IF you are with Him. It is more than simply saying you believe in Him; you must follow through, obey His every command, listen closely to all the Lord has to say to you. Must seek, must study His word, must meditate on God's truths. Must abide with Him and He will abide with you.

This is what is meant when it said He is all we need. When we are open with Him, all else that comes along we'll be able to bear. And the blessings He sends our way will be an extra bonus. The Scriptures tell us we won't be given more than we can handle. I have often questioned that. Perhaps the Lord is trying to teach us that when He leads us, when we allow Him to be the leader and not us individually, then all of our personal difficulties are easier because we are relying on Jesus to get us through them. When we rely only on what we think about ourselves, we will actually accomplish little of anything.

When we think about ourselves we usually go into negativity -- I can't, it won't work, why not, how come, why don't you, and then you sit. Stagnant.

It is only through the power of 1 -- Jesus Christ, that we will be enabled to overcome.

"I am with you always, even to the end of the age."(Matthew 8: 20b)

"I will not leave you nor forsake you."
(Joshua 1: 5d)

"I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can men do to me?' "(Hebrews 13: 5a, 6)

"... If you have bitter envy and self-seeking (selfish ambition) in your hearts ... confusion and every evil thing will be there." (James 3: 14, 16)

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hyprocisy." (James 3: 17)

"Dear near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4: 8a)

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"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6