Posts Tagged ‘authenticity’

The Stubborn Heart

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” (Mk. 9:23-25)

It has been my experience, that literally thousands of people struggle with unbelief. Real barriers stand between their desire and the reality of God’s Will! Like this father they hear the words that Jesus would love to heal, deliver or bring hope; but they are stuck. They know the truth that if they could just believe, nothing would be impossible… but there is no believing, no receiving and no “heart” at all. There is just the nagging reality of hopeless effort, tears and shameful discouragement. And worse yet for many, they construct a new theological platform of resolve… “I will choose to not believe any longer, because it just leaves me hopeless!”

The Spirit of Unbelief:

The inability to obey the instructions of Jesus and trust in the Promises of God, often leads to this frustration. We want to please the Lord and experience all that God has said, but something in us resists faith. We find we “cannot” believe even when we want to. This can be due to a “spirit of unbelief”. Lies, deception, fears or offenses can find their dwelling in the heart and be controlled by a demonic spirit that paralyzes the heart in unbelief. This spirit is real and dangerous, it is pervasive and advancing across the landscape of Christianity and it lives in the midst of the “Church culture”… where all is not fine in paradise!

Authenticity:

I receive many emails and calls about this issue and I find it a bit shocking that the problem is so wide spread and growing. Yet in my opinion there is a root cause that we must uncover and shine the light of truth upon… people are living superficial lifestyles. They rarely stop and contemplate the meaning of their existence. To ask the simple question, “WHY!” is not blasphemy, nor is it going to lead us into deception. Perhaps it would even offer a lot more authenticity to our journey!

Jesus said in Matthew 7:7… “Ask, seek and knock… and the door will be opened!”

Authentic communication with God – opens the door of relational truth. Things that are difficult for us to understand, come into the light of His wisdom and love. God is a “father”, He knows how to take care of His children and He is faithful. He is anticipating our needs to be vocalized and to come streaming into His Presence (Heb. 4:16). The Apostle Peter, who seemed a lot like us; said you and I need to be “casting all our care upon Him, because He cares for us” (1 Pet. 5:7). He cares for us… and He knows all about our issues of faith. This idea that we can avoid our problems and they will just go away… well – that is the greatest deception of all! They do not go away, in fact they produce the fruit of disappointment, which I spoke of earlier. We tend to create and believe a false perception of God’s heart toward our reality.

So – here’s the point…

  • Stop living without meaningful communication with God!

Spend time telling God of the frailty of your faith, the brokenness of your heart and the weakness in your perceptions… ask Him “why?!” and then wait… wait… wait… for the doors to open! They will, my friend they will… they will open wide and the King of Glory will come in. Who is this King of Glory… He is the Lord Strong and Mighty! (Psa. 24:7-10)

The Integrity of Truth

“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ” (Eph. 4:15)

We must speak the truth in love! In trying to win the approval of others I hear so many stories. Stories that might be exciting and fun to listen to, but lack integrity. What is not truthful, does not qualify as a testimony! By that I mean the story goal might be very virtuous, in that we want our listeners to be moved to change their direction in life… but when facts do not line up, God cannot bless our efforts. The reason for that is obvious I think… it wreaks of manipulation, and therefore it is not the truth spoken in love. We must value the integrity of truth! Remind yourself of the goal again… “that we grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ”!

Truth is Vital for Belief!

One of the most important reasons truth matters so much, is that we are telling a bigger story than our own! Notice the following testimony from a soldier who was at the cross when Jesus was being crucified. Notice the testimony fulfills Scripture! Its less about the one testifying … and more about the King of Glory. Read it and then I will share some thoughts about this interesting moment.

“Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who were crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN. And again another Scripture says, they shall look on Him whom they pierced” (Jn. 19:32-37)

An Eye Witness Account Carries Seed for the Future!

This testimony was no simple observation, it was an eye witness account of a “kairos” moment in history… a seed for future fruitful belief. Something was clicked into human events that God would make sure carried more weight than just a nice story line. God was making a significant point, that although Jesus was dying like a ruthless criminal; this was no ordinary moment in the handling of human justice. This man was innocent and the testimony of His innocence reverberated all the way through Biblical history and discourse.

The Prophetic Significance:

During the days of Moses and the Exodus of the Jews from Egyptian slavery, a prophetic act was performed during the last night before their deliverance.  Blood from an unblemished lamb was to be placed on the door posts and lintel of the houses where they ate and when the death angel passed over the houses of the Children of Israel… they would be spared. Interestingly, they were to eat the lamb without breaking any of its bones (Ex. 12:46)(Nu. 9:12). In order to preserve the truthfulness of this event the Jewish people commemorate and remember all that took place through a Passover Celebration every year. They tell the stories and remember the significance of the blood that was shed, even in the way they prepared their unblemished lamb for the feast… not a bone shall be broken.

It Testifies of the Authenticity of Christ – The Lamb of God!

The true Unblemished Lamb gave Himself for the sins of the world. He died to bring deliverance to every believing heart. He died without any bones broken, and fulfilled the Scripture through the mouth of a soldier who observed His crucifixion. It speaks to the honor God gives to the innocent! Even David would later tell us that God will deliver the righteous from all affliction. Although God would place our sin upon Christ in His death on the cross; He would not allow any bones to be broken in the process (Ps. 34:19-20). It is because He was innocent, that this testimony becomes a powerful point of our believing.

The Grip of Sin is Broken – And the Testimony of Christ is True!

Empowered By Leaders

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established - that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Rom. 1:11-12)

This is a wonderful expression of the Apostle Paul’s desire to empower the believers in Rome. In my own life I have been blessed by the example of many great mentors and friends. People who seemed like heroes of the faith or people who have set the standard of ministry by their skills and devotion to Christ.

Yet, I can count on one hand, the number of leaders who inspired me by their story and gave me the tools to achieve what seemed beyond my reach. At times, observing successful leaders has left me more discouraged than encouraged, more intimidated than empowered. Their impact or success seemed so impressive that it left me feeling it was unattainable.

Perhaps you too have felt this way after leaving conferences, listening to podcasts or reading great books. Why, and how can it be avoided?

I believe it is a heart problem which manifests as “inspiration without impact”. Getting the most out of any leadership requires us to be empowered not simply impressed. I believe it comes down to a balance of two character traits, confidence and humility… “teachability”.

  • Teachability happens when we can hear and communicate with integrity and empower those who listen.

1. Confidence

Part of the problem is me. I want to be inspired and sometimes inspiration is blinding. My initial adrenaline rush feels good after hearing a great teaching or going to a wonderful conference, but it is followed by the inevitable sobering look in the mirror. Rather than empowered, I measure myself by what I see – not what God sees. When the skill level of a leader feels more like a “super-star” to me than authentic, then it has not really changed how I see. “Hype” will cause us to miss the point of a leader’s influence. When in situations where I don’t compare to others, I just try to admit it! I am not them, but this should not lead me to discouragement or disqualification. In fact, that may be why God has this person’s voice in my ear… to shift my thinking, so that I see myself the way God sees me. We must recognize that God has made each person unique and special, and we must tune our ears to hear at the heart level, every time.

Likewise, leaders and communicators also need to be secure. Few things will destroy you faster than insecurity. Leaders or those with a larger platform should exude confidence. I once heard a well known preacher say that he used to vomit every time before he got on stage, because he was so nervous. One key to his overcoming this was recognizing that it wasn’t about him, but about God. To help shift his mentality and his fears, he would take a step forward before getting on the stage and consciously think about stepping into Christ and His strength (Gal. 2:20).

  • Here is the Truth: When any person finds their confidence in themselves rather than in Christ, it leads to confusion rather than empowerment. (Jn. 8:31-36) Truth is reality from God’s perspective!

2. Humility

As a disciple or ”learner” it’s easy to feel the delight of being inspired and impressed by powerful leaders. Yet, its honesty and authenticity that empowers us to achieve the goals of God’s Kingdom on Earth. I try to listen with a personal need to gain instruction, rather than feel like I’m getting material to teach to others. Humility is what causes teaching to become training, information to become revelation and testimony to become empowerment. I cannot just “listen” – I must “hear” with spiritual ears what a leader is communicating. My life is my testimony, not just my words.

The great temptation for leaders and followers alike is to avoid talking about weaknesses and flaws. But every strength is susceptible to be a weakness when it is not tempered by humility. There is a subtle fear in all of us that if we let others see who we really are that we will loose credibility and shrink our influence. But leadership is only influential when it is honest and humble. We have all seen what hype can do! There is nothing wrong with “putting your best food forward”, but don’t present an illusion of reality. Walk in integrity and present the real you.

Here is the Truth: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble”  (Jms. 4:6). When you feel God’s resistence, there is a reason. Stop and address it and God will give you ears to hear and a heart of understanding (Prov. 3:34).

Christ, Real Confidence & Humility:

Christ modeled this so beautifully. Unlike you and I, He actually had it all together. He was flawless and perfect. God - in skin and dwelling among us. Yet, “He humbled himself, taking on the very form of a servant and coming in the likeness of men”  (Phil 2:5-8). While on earth, He obeyed the words of His parents and in His ministry He listened to the voice of His Father in Heaven (Jn. 5:19). He modeled the confidence and humility that empowered His disciples and now by the Holy Spirit, He empowers us to have the same mind and the same character.

Be Yourself:

You don’t have to be in the spotlight or emphasize your achievements, to have influence and empower others. My advice: do your best and be secure with your calling in Christ. More opportunities will come as you do your best in your current position. Don’t allow shame or pride to poison your heart from receiving from those who are ahead of you or achieving what seems impossible.

Its Christ in you that is the hope of Glory! He is the One we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (Col. 1:27-28) Hallelujah!

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