Monthly Archives: December 2011

You Are Not Your Reputation!

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden

I had settled into my seat for the evening and was chatting with others around me. The room was alive with the energy of a thousand women who had been anticipating this night for weeks. This was our church’s annual Women’s Christmas Event. Although it was something I usually looked forward to, it was different for me this year. I was preoccupied with a personal issue, but was trying not to get lost in my own head. And then, the worship started.

I sang along, knowing and loving each song. I knew the presence of God was the only cure for my injured soul. Rejection had come to my doorstep like an unwanted solicitor, and as usual, its persistence threatened to persuade me to give in to the pressure of a hard sell.

My situation started a few weeks earlier, when a woman, whom I had only spoken with a few times, had completely misconstrued a conversation between us and made a false accusation about me. Her story couldn’t have been further from the truth. In fact, the truth was the complete opposite of her story. But I had no idea there was even a problem, until I was called to meet with two women who informed me. These women, whom I had respected, were leaders.

As everything unfolded, I became aware of the false accusation against me. It was as if I had unknowingly been placed on trial. Before I even knew it started and in my absence and without opportunity to defend myself, a jury of two women had reached a verdict. The court had been adjourned with the rap of the judge’s gavel and I was pronounced guilty. In addition, I was now relieved of some of my regular volunteer activities, which I loved. I was so hurt and wounded.

As I was reprimanded (in a very polite way), I was instructed about how I should have “believed the best” about my accuser. Yet they seemed to dismiss the fact that after having been acquainted with me for years, they had not given me the same consideration. Being lied about was bad enough, and now, betrayal would be the crowning cherry on top.

I was doing my best to push through this situation with an attitude and heart that would be pleasing to God. But I still felt justified in my anger. After all, I had been misrepresented and completely misjudged in a situation where I had done nothing wrong.

As I began to worship, “Silent Night“, which is one of my favorites, began to play. I began to ask God to show me…what had it REALLY been like in that stable the night Jesus was born? It was too easy to resort to the familiar images of the little nativity scene where the cows are lined up and everything appears orderly and fairly clean…but as I asked Him that question that night, I began to see a different picture. I realized that Joseph was probably a little frantic as he attempted to make a place where his wife could give birth. He had to clear manure out of the way and somehow get the animals to move.

Then I began to think about Mary and the birthing process. She, like all other women in that day and time, gave birth with nothing to alleviate the pain. She felt everything and experienced much pain and probably cried out many times because of it. Everything about that birth was as human as any other birth that ever was before or since, with only one difference. The child being born that night was as much God as He was man, but no one knew it. Some would even make the choice to disbelieve it.

I began to think about that. This Jesus who lived in heaven, came to earth and was born as one of us. This scripture came to mind:

who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.             Philippians 2:6-8

There I was, standing in a room full of women, worshipping this amazing God who created the universe, and I’m hit with the reality of what it really meant for Him to be born into such humanness. Here He was, the Almighty God, being born in the form of a man. He would receive no accolades, no praise, no recognition for who He really was. He knew that He would one day be

“misrepresented and completely misjudged in a situation where He had done nothing wrong”… (sound familiar?)

As I worshipped, I was no longer aware of the wrong that had been done to me, or the way I had been misunderstood or how my heart’s intentions had been wrongly judged.

As the Lord revealed these things to me, I knew He was asking me to examine my heart… Was I willing to become a person of no reputation? Was I willing to forfeit the accolades that I thought should be mine? Could I go unnoticed for a good deed or a job well done? Was I willing to remain stable, even when others had wrong opinions about me when I didn’t have the opportunity to tell my side of the story? Was I willing to surrender what others thought of me, fully to Him, and let Him be my vindicator and the “righter” of someone else’s wrongs towards me?

God began to show me that I am not the sum total of what others think of me. He measures me much differently. If Jesus were only what others thought of Him, then He would have been nothing more than a lying, heretic…yet we know that He was the Word made flesh that came to live among us. In light of that great sacrifice, just in coming and being born, the act of emptying Himself and becoming one of us, I couldn’t respond in any other way, than to surrender everything that had weighed me down. Suddenly, I was free.

Now, I realize even more, the importance of surrendering this whole reputation thing; for it is only when I am willing to lay it down, that I am positioned to be fully submitted and obedient to God’s direction for my life. When I come to places of being resistant to obeying God, I find it’s because I’m too worried about what others will think of me. This strongly indicates that I’m putting my reputation and the opinions of people before God.

After a life long issue with trust, I’ve realized something. I no longer have to trust people. You read that correctly. I don’t need to trust the people in my life as much as I need to trust God with the people in my life. When I am fully surrendered to Him, He can change the hearts of those around me and take care of everything that concerns me. So remember…you are not your reputation.

 

 


In Him…In Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.    2 Corinthians 5:17

Just recently, my family and I went on a 7 day Caribbean cruise. It was amazing to see the blue water and beautiful scenery. We even got to see dolphins jumping and playing out in the middle of the ocean. It was so much fun to see them out in the wild like that rather than in a tank at Sea World.

One of the ports that our ship visited was Cozumel, Mexico. We spent the day at a beautiful beach. Our son and daughter parasailed and rode wave runners…but there was another interesting activity that we saw also; water ball walking. The picture above gives you a pretty good idea of what it is. We looked at that and immediately began to think of the negatives about such an activity; getting hot and sweaty, feeling closed in, having to touch the sweat of the people who had been in there before you! Yuck! As you can probably predict, we didn’t participate in this particular “sport”.

We enjoyed several hours there and then headed back to the ship to shower and get ready for dinner…the food is dangerously good on those ships! Anyway…I haven’t given that “water walking ball” any more thought, until today. Now let me go on what might seem like a rabbit trail for a minute, but I promise I will come back to this ball thing 🙂

Over the last couple of days I have really been thinking about God’s grace and the law, which is what we would refer to as “The Ten Commandments” Now I don’t have time to go into a full-blown lesson on the Mosaic Law and the grace of God. I don’t comprehend it fully myself, but I would like to touch the tip of the iceberg for a moment.

We know that according to Romans 3:20-22 that no one is made righteous by trying to keep the law, (by trying to be perfect), but that the reason the law was given was to prove to us that we can’t keep it and to make us aware of our sin. The reason? So that we would recognize our need for a Savior, (Jesus) and so we would come to understand that true righteousness ONLY comes by trusting IN HIM, IN CHRIST as our Savior; not by DOING a bunch of good stuff. You may be wondering why I keep italicizing the word righteousness…I did it again. The reason is because I want to tell you, in plain English, what it means. That fancy word “righteousness” means nothing more than “right standing” or “right relationship”. So when the bible says that no one is made righteous by trying to keep the law…it just means that no one will reach a place of “right standing” or being in “right relationship” with God by trying really hard to be “good”or by doing “good” stuff. It’s impossible. There is nothing wrong with doing good stuff, but we can never DO enough to be perfect or take care of our “sin” problem. If you could, you would have already done it! If you’ve ever told a lie or sassed your mother or father, or stolen a piece of candy, or even wanted what belonged to someone else (their position, their power…or even their purse!), then you’ve failed at keeping the law…or being perfect…now it seems pretty hopeless, doesn’t it??? BUT…I have good news!

Jesus came and lived a perfect, sinless life, keeping every point of the law, because He knew we couldn’t do it. This was God’s plan. Jesus then became our substitute on the cross when He, knowing no sin, became sin for us and took the punishment of that sin, “so that we could become the righteousness of Christ Jesus” (2 Cor 5:21) To become the “righteousness of Christ Jesus” simply means to come into “right standing” or “right relationship” with God…IN HIM. That’s why Jesus said,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.            Matthew 5:17

Back to the ball…(I know it seems crazy, but stay with me)

We immediately looked at the negatives of being in the ball, but we didn’t look at the benefits. While in the ball, I get all of the advantages and get to take on the identities and properties of the ball. I can defy natural laws of physics as long as I stay in the ball. If I try to walk out on the water on my own, I will sink immediately. If I am in deep water, I can only keep my head above the water for as long as I have strength to tread water, but when my strength runs out, I’m going down. However, if I’m taking a walk in the ball, I’m going to glide right over the top of that water. Twenty men could shove it under the surface of the water, but it would just pop right back up again! Shoot, if I get tired, I can lay down in the ball and rest and still stay afloat. If the water gets rough and the waves get to high, without the ball, I can easily be overtaken by the waters that surround me and threaten to push me under while tossing me to and fro, leaving me at the mercy of the storm and impossible to breathe. BUT, if I am in the ball, I may be tossed around, but I will not go under and I can stay on top of the storm and ride it out. Though it may be scary and I may not have much control, I’m cocooned safely inside until the storm is over.

The same holds true for us in life if we are IN HIM or IN CHRIST. We may get tossed around, but we won’t go under. We may get tired, but we can have “peace that passes understanding”(Phil 4:7) and lay down and rest if we realize that we are IN HIM! When we decide to depend on our SELF to get through a tough situation, our ability to stick it out is only as good as our human limits and human strength. But, if we remember that we are IN CHRIST, then we can trust the scripture that says, “I can do all things through (IN) Christ who gives me (HIS) strength.” Philippians 4:13. If we feel that life has us down and we just can’t go another round, remember, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 When we are IN HIM, we have benefits and advantages that we don’t have when we are on our own. We will still encounter hard times, but being IN HIM is like a shelter from the storm. No longer do we have to live under guilt and condemnation because Romans 8:1 says “Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those who are IN CHRIST Jesus.

Begin to really think about these truths and let them begin to permeate you. See how many of these scriptures you can find that talk about who we are and what we have when we are IN HIM. You can even go to google and look up “In Him Scriptures”. The next time you begin to feel as if you don’t measure up or that God must be displeased with you, or that you don’t know how to make it one more day, go to the Bible, meditate on these verses and get a visual of the water walking ball and remember that you are IN CHRIST and that nothing can take you under!


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