September 25, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines IX: Be Good To Yourself

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I Thank God for My Existence & Upholding My Life

I am truly grateful to you oh God who has made me as I am. Every one of my eccentricities have been accounted for and I know that they reside within me for the reasons you have established since before the foundations of the world. My uniqueness has been given to me by you and for this I am forever thankful. We are not the same as humans but specially constructed for use in your plans. No molecule or rogue agent is in your universe. I know that every single particle exists to bring glory to you oh God whether that particle is a part of me or not. Thank you for my existence. Thank you that you saw fit to number me among your chosen.

I'll Not Hesitate To Thank God for Being Created In His Image

If I could not bring myself to thank God for me and my existence it goes to show that I do not value His handiwork or that fact that He saw fit to make my in His image. This means I do not value being made in a holy and godly image. This lack of appreciation is hard to ponder. It would be like biting the hand that feeds…or should I say biting the hand that molds. At the core of a failure to be thankful to God is a heart of ungratefulness or maybe even selfishness?

I'll Accept Myself As God Has Accepted Me In Grace and Mercy

Strangely, I have always had a hard time accepting myself as is. I also had a hard time forgiving myself of past improprieties and committed sins. I needed to realize that He forgave me…now I need to forgive me. Receiving one’s self is just another way of saying accepting one’s self. When we begin to or are able to accept ourselves, we begin to accept ourselves as God does. Through grace and mercy God extends love to us in our sinful condition even though we are not worthy of it. It is in His extension of this grace that we are given our value. As we begin to accept ourselves after repentance, even through our faults we begin to see us as God sees us, flawed but redeemable. If we can do this for ourselves knowing we have nothing to offer then we also need to release we need to do the same for other human beings…since they too are made in God’s image and like us, they too are flawed.

I'll No Longer Neglect The Temple of The Holy Spirit (The Naos)

Although I am under no obligation to be totally open about this portion of my life to strangers I should probably disclose some of the more sordid details in my past. Two of which were alcohol abuse and drug use. The thing I learned about both of these ungodly and atrocious habits is, at their heart, they revolve around self-centeredness and selfishness. In these habits you care about how “you” feel or what “you” are doing. Other people do not enter into the equation and if they do it is usually only because “you” stand to gain something from “them”. This is not biblical and the quicker people realize it the quicker they have a chance of getting back on the correct footing towards God. Being Christian is about dying to self and turning outward. It is not necessarily about becoming self-absorbed and turning inward. These addictions/habits aided and abetted the destruction of good relationships with friends and in some cases family because other people fall by the wayside on importance as compared to the self. On the flip side of this I have taken care of myself since those days to the best of my ability and exercised and eaten well. The positive fallout from this is proper health, sleep and eating habits that I have now passed on to my wife and children (sort of).

Self-Care or Selfishness?

The self-care that I sense Jesus pulling me into is in the spiritual life. This area has fallen short in my life and requires work. Part of this is in service to others. I have not totally figured this one out as of now but it is clear that this is what ministry is about. Being of service and being a servant is near the center of being Christian. As with many things in my life, this is a work-in-progress. This is not a self-love or selfishness as commonly understood when we protect ourselves or look out for our health physical, spiritual or otherwise. Instead we should see staying healthy physically and mentally as a matter of keeping God's tools sharp for the gleaning of the harvest fields. God likes to keep His tools razor sharp.

Burnout Is Inevitable In Sinful Man

Burning out is lousy. It stinks and I have nothing good to say about it. I could say it is a good indicator that I need to get back to God but that would mean I strayed off God's course in the first place…and that too stinks royally. Burnout to me tells me that something got out of balance and went unbiblical somewhere. There are a few verses that back up my sentiment on this:

~Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:27

~So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Deuteronomy 5:32

~Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them. Deuteronomy 28:14

If I have reached this point I try to make it a point to find out where I went rogue or veered to the left or to the right. What I have not done is backed off the throttle and trusted in a sovereign God.

How Does One Recover?

Recovery is to stop and realize no matter how much I get done today, tomorrow brings another set of responsibilities and another set of anxieties. Man in and of himself can never get ahead of the curve in terms of work. Nor can man ever get ahead of the curve in terms of chasing God. God is infinite and so are His attributes. He is wholly other. Once I realized this I saw no point in worrying about getting “it all right” or correct. God will make things as He wants them. I am an instrument for that happening. Even when I think it is me it is in His sovereignty that things will be done and get done anyway. Even when I do things in an evil manner, God works it to His benefit.

Knowing Anxiety Is Senseless Changed How I View Life

I live life for today. Yes, I still plan ahead but I refuse to fret over it or fret over things that are out of my control. I now know that even the best laid plans of men can be laid to waste in and instant by the Almighty if He deems it proper to do so. This THIS has made life easier to live. When I do something I still do it to the best of my ability but I do not do it for self-glorification or public acclaim, I do it knowing I represent the body of Christ and to me that makes me work even harder to get things right. I am not doing things for myself but God’s glory which is infinitely more important.

Life Is A Gift & A Blessing

We are all gifts from the Almighty. We were gifts and blessings to our parents when we were born and many of our parents viewed us as just that: A gift or blessing from God. Why? Because we were!!! If God sees fit to see us this way and the two most important people in our lives see/saw us this way. Why is it so hard for us too? Every human life is a precious creation of a being in the image of God. It is why most if not all people (except for the insane or mentally disturbed) view murder or war in such abject horror. It violates everything we understand about the value and sanctity of human life.

Accept Love Given and Be Grateful

Protect is a poor choice of words here. Block one’s self from receiving live seems more apropos. Having said this I would say that one of the main ways to block receiving love from God or others is to have too much love for one’s self. Self-centeredness inhibits one from recognizing that we are loved often times. In these situations we often make ourselves to exalted or overly esteem ourselves. In this way we buffer what should’ve bee easily recognizable love. When we are selfish we seem to expect more and when we don’t get what we think we deserve we feel or think we have been cheated. What is usually always the case is…just the opposite is true. We are given love in abundance but we do not recognize it as such so we think we got cheated out of something. The people extending the love then realize their love is not being received or on some cases ignorantly rejected. When this happens, love gets restrict or held back because it does not get recognized and reciprocated. Eventually love disappears in these situations as little by little the failure to recognize and accept the love by the selfish person whittles away the love and patience of the one loving. This of course is at the human-to-human level. God on the other hand extends the love until the dying breath of the person, after which the sinner or selfish person that does not accept it pretty much seals their fate. They are condemned because of their selfishness. If they do not repent and accept Christ, humble themselves and begin to serve which is the true fruit of the one whom follows Jesus…they inevitably get it wrong...thus condemning themselves to eternal punishment and separation from God.

As the old Journey song once said, "Be Good To Yourself". Why? Because you...are not yours. You do not own you...Christ does. You my friend are bought and paid for.

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