Entitlement: The Tip of the Iceberg

entitlement

Imagine a deadly sickness has plagued our country. There are no outward symptoms, and the longer you were infected, the more convinced you were of your health. Yet one simple test could reveal whether or not you were sick. Would you be tested?

The truth is, there is a deadly sickness plaguing our country. It is the cause of many spiritual deaths, yet many refuse to even check for this lethal enemy. What is the sickness? Pride. And the more infected you are, the less likely you are to think you have it, for pride deceives you.

In my last post, I discussed why pride is such a lethal enemy. It is an iceberg. The danger of an iceberg is not its great strength, but that its strength is hidden. Likewise, pride exists in the unseen realm of the heart. Though glimpses of it are seen in the realm of the actions, the staggering and destructive power of pride lies hidden in the shadows of the heart.

Because pride infects the motives, even the most spiritual actions, like praying, giving and serving, can be rooted entirely in arrogance and self-love.  So how can we spot an unseen enemy? Let me offer one litmus test for pride: entitlement. Entitlement is the tip of the iceberg. Every now and then it bobs above the surface, into the realm of conscious thought and actions, giving us a warning to what lies beneath.

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An Unseen Enemy

An unseen enemy

The danger of an iceberg is not its great strength, but that its strength is hidden. Had the ice monstrosity that sunk the Titanic been above the water, it no doubt would have been seen and easily avoided.

Pride—a desire to exalt oneself—is like an iceberg. It exists in the unseen realm of the heart and has many facets.  Unlike the sins of adultery or addiction, pride cannot easily be spotted above the surface through actions.  Because it infects the motives, any action, good or bad, can be contaminated with pride.  We see this showcased in the Pharisees: doing good things with self-exalting motives.

Pride’s Side Effect
To add to its danger, the main side effect of pride is self-deceit.  “The arrogance of your heart deceives you.”(Ob 3, Jer 49:16)  “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing (pride), he deceives himself.” Gal 6:1

Think of it, pride deceives us.  It misleads us to believe something that isn’t true. Unlike outright rebellion where we know we’re wrong, the deception of pride convinces us of our innocence in the midst of our sinning.  This is a dreadful reality.

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Journaling: More Than a Diary

journaling

“Today we went to Hobby Lobby. My mom got 2 new lamps. It took her 30 MINUTES to choose which ones she wanted! I got a little birdcage for my dollhouse. We went to Marco’s for dinner then to Kroger. They now have a checking counter you can do yourself!” ~Me, 12 years old

My first journal is full of entries like this: “dear diary” entries recounting my day and how I felt about it. I recorded everything from how God was answering my prayers, to what my friends and I scored in putt-putt. Ha!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun rereading my pre-teen thoughts.  (Especially now that I have often spent over 30 minutes being indecisive about decor and that self-checkouts are standard in many stores.)  But chronicling your life is not the only function a journal can serve; those blank pages can be used in so many other ways!

In a sermon about how to have a quiet time, our former pastor would include a photocopied page from his journal. It was so helpful to have a tangible example of what it looked like to engage with God. Something that once seemed daunting and unknown became attainable. It is for this same reason that I share some pages from my own journals.  I hope this will get the creative juices flowing as you consider what it could look like for you to engage with God and seek Him with all your heart.  Below are some functions your journal can serve.

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The Inner Circle

the inner circleI vividly remember standing outside of a literal circle of people. Though these girls were just acquaintances, I had hoped to join their conversation.  As 4,000 students shuffled through the halls of my high school, I awkwardly waited for someone to notice me.  No one noticed.  And to avoid looking weird, I headed off to class.

I hated feeling like I was missing out.  Like the real fun is just beyond my reach.

Fast forward 9 years. Jimmy and I were backstage at a festival in Norway with our 6-month-old. The green room was bustling with the sounds of bands prepping for their sets, artists and managers talking, and meals being served.  We sat around a table laughing and talking with a few other artists.  The kinds of people you name drop, you know?  Awesome people who love Jesus, but people I only had access to because of Jimmy’s rising music career.

Then Lively started crying. Why can’t this baby just sleep?  I mean, when else am I going to get to talk to these people?   Seeing that all my efforts to soothe our daughter weren’t working, I resigned, with much frustration, to head back to the hotel for the night.

Rocking my daughter to sleep, I sulked as I thought about the laughter and conversations I was missing out on. I felt so sorry for myself, sitting outside the inner circle.

WE ALL HAVE AN INNER CIRCLE

You may laugh at me, or think me overdramatic, superficial, and immature.  But I think this is a universal struggle. Whether you are in high school, in the corporate world, or a stay-at-home mom, we all have a sense of who the “important people” are.  The popular girl. The pastor’s wife. The CEO of your company. The blogger with thousands of followers. The couple with a lot of money.  The pretty one, the wealthy one, the one with lots of kids, the one who makes everything from scratch.

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The Best Marriage I Never Wanted

thebestmarriageineverwanted

I love Revive Our Hearts.  God has used this ministry to change my life and bring peace to my heart through the teaching of the Word of God.  I have yet to find a better ministry dealing with Biblical womanhood in such a God-centered, balanced, and humble way.

A few months ago I was surprisingly given the opportunity to become a contributor to the Revive Our Hearts blog, called True Woman.  (Umm… to say I was excited is a serious understatement.)  What a sweet gift this has felt like from my Heavenly Father to allow me to write for a ministry that is so dear to my heart and has been so precious in my own walk with Him.

Sooo… in light of all that, I’d love for you to check out my first post on the True Woman blog titled The Best Marriage I Never Wanted.  While you are there, take some time to read a few other posts or listen to some of the radio programs.

Here’s a excerpt from my post:

I married a humble, godly, romantic man at twenty years old. Did I mention he just happens to have a phenomenal voice and is a gifted songwriter? He writes me songs, loves Jesus like crazy, and because of his music career, we’ve traveled the world together. Every girls’ dream, right? Yet, exactly two weeks into marriage, I wrote this in my journal:

“Why am I so unhappy? So scared and confused?”

Surprised? I was too. Let me explain.

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Pride, Death, and A Great Redeemer

“Stop trying to do something for Me. Just let Me be your Redeemer.”

This is the message I sense God is continually speaking to me lately.  Oh what a hard lesson for me to learn. There is something in me that desperately wants to do something amazing for God, to live a life that makes Him proud and impresses Him and others.  If I’m being gut-level honest, I just want to be awesome on my own and have some bit of glory for myself.  I don’t really like to live in the reality that apart from Christ I can do nothing. And because my Father loves me, He has set up circumstances in my life to sanctify this sinful tendency out of me.

Last year, I studied the Pharisees and realized that I am just like them.  The pride in my heart mirrors theirs, these people whom Jesus so regularly condemns.  This awareness birthed profound brokenness in me and a desire to live the life of a servant, which Jesus says makes a person truly great in His Kingdom.  With true love for God in my heart, I have since then been regularly asking for dependency on Him and humility and grace to have a servant’s heart.  Then our pastor’s wife asked if I would speak at our Women’s Christmas dinner.

Ummmm… no. Of course not! Hello! I just learned how bent toward pride and arrogance I am, the last place in the world I need to be is on a stage.  So imagine my surprise when Jimmy told me I should do it. Not only that, he said all my reasons to say no were based in fear and self-protection.  He pointed out that I was trusting circumstances to save me from my sin of pride, not Jesus.  Ouch.  After much wrestling, I came to the same conclusion: none of my reasons to say no were God-glorifying.  I had to say yes.

The irony of all this is that had I been asked to do this a few years prior, I would have jumped at the opportunity and subconsciously thought “It’s about time!”  But here I am, painfully aware of my pride having to face a stage, the surest snare of pride there is.  Never have I felt more in need of God to save me from my sin than preparing for that event.  Prayer for dependency. Answered.

Within a month of our Christmas dinner, I got 2 other opportunities to regularly write which were quickly confirmed by my husband and a few others as something I should say yes to.  But Lord, these are the things that bring out my pride!  Shouldn’t I get rid of all this? This is where God’s sweet message meets me exactly where I’m at:

Stop trying to do something for Me.  Let Me redeem you.

The natural thought process for me in all these new writing ventures is that I am mainly doing this for the benefit of others or to please God.  And maybe that’s not a totally bad reason.  But something I am convinced of is that this season of writing is mainly for my sanctification.  My redemption.  For God to put to death things in me that enslave me.  He is causing a perfect storm of circumstances to showcase my self-sufficient, proud, and self-glorifying tendencies.  Why?  So that He can redeem me.  Because I have A Great Redeemer who loves me enough not to leave me in my sin!

It is amazing, since starting to post things, I feel an immediate and sudden urge to find validation in all of this.  I hate the stats page on these blog sites.  Of course I want to know how many people viewed my blog!  Of course I want to know what people are saying about me.  I love me!  Not only that, I find that I really want to impress others with how great of a writer I am.  Yep, let’s just get it out in the open and into the light: I want to impress you!  And yet, I am supposed to do all things unto the glory of God?!  Oh Jesus, please redeem me.

Oh how this brokenness has lead me to the cross.  I have never been more grieved by my sin, more wowed by Christ’s perfect life, more wrecked by His brutal death because of my sin.  The cross of Christ is so much more precious to me than ever before.  For the first time ever, I am starting “to sing joyfully of His righteousness” (ps 51:14) and not my own, because I realize any goodness in me is of Him anyway.  Though painful to be this aware of my sin, I deeply desire for God to continue redeeming me.

Colossians 3:5 says “Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature.”  Those are strong words.  Jesus also used strong language to describe how we should fight our sin: “If your right hand causes you to sin cut it off.” (Matt 5:30)  Knowing that this season of writing is mainly about my sanctification and redemption, I want to yield to God’s work in me as much as possible.  So, I will be doing more “off-the-cuff” writing like this post.  My tendency is to present clean, polished, and excellent posts to impress others.  There is nothing wrong with excellence, and in some of the other avenues of writing I currently have, I think excellence there is necessary and honors God.  But since this blog is a place I have more freedom to write however I want, I feel like it would be a great exercise for me to post more often without overanalyzing and polishing off all my posts.  Because, let’s be honest, the reason I do that is often for my own glory.

So, just a heads up, you’ll probably see more posts on here, but they will probably have more run-on sentences, more spelling errors, and won’t be as organized.  But through this exercise, I am praying God will redeem some of the sinfulness I see in my own heart.  Praying for dependency and brokenness seemed like a pleasant thing at the time, but it sure does feel like death right now.  Oh yeah, that’s because it is a form of death!  But “if a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)  May God fully crucify the old me that trusts in my own abilities and loves my own glory and make room for Christ to live in and through me and bear much fruit.

1 Way to Do Everything

1 way to do everything.jpgI was just looking for a recipe.  That’s all.  A small request to ask of Pinterest, really.  But a simple quest for a good enchilada recipe evolved into researching how to be better at life. Two hours and much discouragement later, I’m wondering what happened.

If you’ve been on Pinterest lately, you may know what I’m talking about.  The abundance of articles out there on self-improvement is growing rapidly.

“10 Ways to Have a Christ-Centered Marriage”
“5 Things You Should Never Tell Your Child”
“15 Ways to a More Peaceful Home”
“30 Questions to Ask Before You Date Him”
“25 Ways to Declutter Your Life”
“12 Filthiest Places You Should be Cleaning”

I can’t help but be drawn in like a moth to the flame by claims such as these.  I am bent toward self-reliance.  Nothing is more attractive to me than feeling like I have the power to change my life and the promise of 7 easy steps entices me to click through and keep reading .  I like feeling in control, like I have the power to change myself.  Simultaneously, the thought of not reading makes me wonder, “How will I know if I’ve said any of the 5 things I should never tell my kids?” Self-sufficiency and fear dually coerce me to trust in myself and strive for a better marriage, kids, house, and life.

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