Becoming Less

Becoming Less

I John 2:15-17 (NIV)

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

I am an ambitious overachiever by nature who once given any kind of insight or instruction tends to take the ball and run. I do not like to be still and once considered myself a natural born leader. Not anymore. There is a fine line between humility and pride that is not always clearly defined. Our flesh considers our talents and abilities personal and innate sometimes forgetting that there is a Creator who formed us this way and His Spirit inside us guiding us from glory to glory. For many years, I was active in ministry, leadership and service in the church. The more I served the farther behind the door of the church office I would tread. First, just nineteen years old filled with naivety that everyone in Christ was a new creation. I thought that working in ministry would be different than employment in the world. I found it to be filled with people. No different from me and you, yet my immature expectation led to total devastation and a walk in the wilderness for more than a decade. When I ventured back to Jesus, I immediately felt that call rise up inside of me again and again I stepped out into service for my Savior. I encountered the same thing but this time with some experience and maturity under my belt somehow managed to survive it for a bit longer. Until I was hurt and took offense again, closing the door on this avenue of life I decided this really wasn’t for me and sat down. The only outlet of service in my life this blog. I thought it would be a safe place to grow in the Lord and pursue Him without being concerned with other people. My sanctuary became my prison without my even knowing it.

My burden and heart cry these days are for the souls of all God’s People. People are not the problem they create the realm of possibility to see God’s Glory poured out in our midst. The problem is often me. Pride is a dream crusher and faith killer in the Kingdom of God. It destroys churches and devastates people all in the name of service. When our son became sick, I felt as though I was in exile for years. I could not “do” anything I had done in the past. My job was left to others except for what I could accomplish long distance or when I was able to return for intermittent periods. My family had to take care of itself while I cared for our sick son. I felt guilty even though I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be that I could not “do” all the things I was “called” to do. Even in the hospital, there was only so much that I could “do” so I did those things but most days were filled with sitting helplessly and waiting on the Lord. Something happened during that time that has forever changed me. I hope in sharing this it will allow godly perspective to come and revelation to be released to those who are crying out for more of God and for revival to come will escape the devastating brokenness that was necessary to free me from vainglory.

Vainglory. It is a word that smacks of pride and causes immediate offense in our heart…at least in mine. Yet the word rose up in my spirit, kept circling in my mind, and finally I had to see what it was all about because clearly the Lord would not free me from it until I listened. Vainglory is just as bad as it sounds. It is excessive elation or pride over one’s own achievements or abilities. It is manifested innocently in God’s People as they begin to live the life that God created for them with power, authority and dominion over the earth that sometimes crosses a dangerous line. The perception that we can do or are called to do anything other than discipleship of God’s People extending mercy and compassion in all areas of life and ministry without regard for circumstances or situations. The mentality that “if I don’t do it no one else will” limits the Power of God in our life because it cuts Him off at the pass. I asked the Lord to show me if I am seeking vainglory and immediately some instances rose up in my mind. Things that made me angry with people. Times when my pride felt abused. I realized in that moment though I so much was broken off my life that there is always more to go. See I left my job when the Lord impressed upon me that it was taking more than it should. The school is doing just fine without me. I have softened in my need for perfection to make sure love is first and foremost. Excellence is not perfect. Our best will never result in excellent perfection unless it all brings Glory to God…never man.

We live in the world. Thanks to Jesus Christ, we are no longer of this world. We must seek to do the Will of God being strict in our mastery of the flesh to crucify things like lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The word “vain” is a harsh one in my assessment. It is always about pride. Each of the definitions point to pride. That is all except one that warns of “without real basis or significance.” I want my faith in God to have real basis or substance. I want the significance in my life to be the Glory of God manifested on the earth. Have we lost our way? Are we seeking the Glory of God which is each soul saved? Or have we somehow lost our way, crossed the line and somehow gotten distracted? Martha people fall dangerously victim to such a mentality. Yet the Mary’s need to learn to take the saturation of their heart mind and soul into the world becoming the Hands and Feet of Jesus. We must work together to see His Glory come back to His People and release revival in His Churches.

Psalm 8:3-5 (NIV)

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels  and crowned them with glory and honor.

As born-again Children of the Living God, we are given supernatural insight and abilities to accomplish God’s Plan for us. It is the gift of Eternity in our heart that starts our search for the Lord and His Fulfillment. When we come to Jesus, we are connected to purpose and given power above and beyond are ability which is naturally assumed. It is because mankind was created a little lower than the angels and crowned with God’s Glory and Honor. This makes it imperative that we apply God’s Word to our life and allow His Spirit to instruct us so that we continue to grow in God’s Grace and be transformed from Glory to Glory rather than using this blessing for personal gain or prideful pleasure.

Exodus 33:17-19 (NIV)

And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

When Moses asked the Lord to “show me your glory.” He did not encounter a massive God who would lord over him, frighten him, or even discard him. No, God’s Glory was first marked by mercy and then filled with compassion. In every attitude and action that we desire to experience the Glory of God – it is not based on who we are or what others do or do not do but fully and completely on the mercy and compassion of God for us that should always be first and foremost in us.

Jeremiah 13:15-17 (NIV)

Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to utter darkness and change it to deep gloom. If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be taken captive,

Pride has been the rise and fall of many churches. I believe it grieves the Heart of God when His People set out to do His Will and fall victim to vainglory. He desires to bless us. He longs to release His Power. He wants people to be saved, healed and delivered to live in His Glory and the Light of His Love. However, somehow we miss it. Over and over again, there is no revival. Churches split. People get hurt and are driven to darkness by offense and hurt. If we are looking into the Eyes of Jesus, we will see people in their reflection. If we seek His Heart, a burden for people – all people – will come pouring out. If we want to do His Work, our hands and feet will carry the message of God’s Love to all mankind working to create a bond with all people to build His Kingdom that will last forever. If we just set out to unite with one heart and one mind again I believe there would be a radical shift in the Kingdom. If we do not love our own, how in the world will we love the world? Compassion and mercy must be the mandate of our life to see the Glory of God.

Proverbs 13:10 says, “Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” If there is strife among us then there is pride in us. If this word offends you, there is probably pride with in you. Otherwise, it is a revelation that breaks our heart, shatters our conscience allowing our mind to be renewed. When pride brings us low, God has the opportunity to lift us to the next level in Him. Think about Isaiah. In the Presence of God and all of His Holiness, he realizes that he is unclean. Crying out to the Lord in repentance at the revelation, how does God respond? Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Psalm 29:1-2;10-11 (NIV)

(Vs.1-2) Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

(Vs. 10-11) The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

This word is for you today. It is definitely for me. Pride will kill the next great move of God if we don’t kill it right now. God moves through His People. We are the next great move of God. We have everything we need to see revival come alive in us, our families and places of worship. Where there is strife there is pride, welcome to most churches. Some but not all. When we give God ALL the GLORY and live in His Glory which is marked by mercy and compassion for the people more than any production, the Lord blesses us with peace and unity. This is God’s Greatest Desire. It is totally up to each of us. Harmony among His People will release an unstoppable overflow of anointing in our midst that will see people saved, healed and delivered. Our life is wasted unless used to fulfill Christ’s Mandate on our life which is to disciple His People. We cannot teach them love characterized by selfless humility if we still hang on to any pride at all. I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ. To do it in my strength and ability will not produce God’s Glory or the miraculous change that we long for. In fact it is what’s killing the church and dissecting the Body of Christ today. When what we do becomes more important than preserving and prospering our relationship with others sharing the Love of Jesus no matter what they do, how they act or who they are – pride is a problem. It means that grace is not sufficient enough for them which  makes it less than enough for me.

As I look back at my attitude and actions over the years, I find them less than stellar. I have acted prideful without even knowing it and I am ashamed. It is difficult to remember sometimes that my life is completely attributed to the Glory of God in me and not what I am able to do since He came and found me.

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

He must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:30) God does not need us. Friend, He desires us. This is His Mandate for our life. Justice and mercy are partners that can never be ripped apart yet maintain His Presence in our life. To think that there are things you have to do or it won’t get done is pride not faith. Fear cannot lead us to repentance, righteousness, renewal or restoration. Our life is worth nothing apart from Jesus. Jesus did everything in love. If what you are doing is not producing more love in you and for those around you, time to self-examine our own attitude and actions. God knows your intentions where never to become prideful. He knows that you thought you were doing your best to serve Him with excellence.

 

For the first time in a very long time, I have stepped out in church leadership again. Big step from captivity that had become my comfort zone. I tried to do it like I have done it before take charge and do what the Lord has called me to do. Something has happened to me over the last few years, it makes uncomfortable. I see people again. I didn’t always operate that way thinking my eyes were firmly fixed on Jesus as well as my heart and hands, I set my motivation to get whatever it was accomplished. What I found was that I stepped on and over a lot of people because I pursued God and His Interests personally and pridefully rather than passionately in His Love. Nothing I do for the Lord of worth will cause strife and separation among God’s People. Hurt and offense cannot be overlooked or ignored. It’s not their problem. It’s my problem. To walk humbly with my God is my greatest desire. He never passes by the lost or hurting. Am I?

Psalm 63:1-3 (NIV)

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

I was reading a blog by Rory Feek whose wife, Joey, recently went to be with the Lord after battling cancer. They have a child together who was very dependent and attached to her mama. When Joey knew that her time on earth was ending, she had two choices. She could cling to her daughter every second of the day so that she would remember her mama when she was gone or she could begin to teach her little girl to depend on her daddy. She chose to become less in her baby’s life so that her father would become more. She lived John 3:30. She selflessly gave up those last few months and moments with her daughter to keep her from sadness and grief in her passing and have a strong relationship with her father so that she would be successful after Joey was gone. I don’t know if I could be that strong. To give up my final moments of mothering to allow my children to be successful after I was gone, I want to be like that though.

After I read that, I felt the Lord flood me with Light. I must decrease so that He will increase. People need to know they can count on God’s Love not me. To be a good leader is to always point to God’s Love, His Power and His Glory even if it is at the price of self. Selfless service to the Lord is not “doing” everything. It is not an appearance. It is one simple act. Loving others more than our self even our enemies. It means laying our life down again and again. Pride has no place in the Glory of God only His Unfailing and Neverending Love. To live this life and please the Lord, I lay me down today all over again. Lord, keep my eyes fixed on Jesus so that every person reflected in His Eyes become burdens on my soul. The sign of a great leader is the success of their people after they are gone. Would they make it without you? Could they get along with just God?

Isaiah 42:6-9 (NIV)

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”

When I could not shake the idea of vainglory, I grabbed my journal and decided to find it in the Word of God. What was the Lord speaking to my heart? Where had I gone wrong? I wanted to right my way. It took some digging but I found it in the King James Version in Philippians 2. “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” My prayer time lately has been with the idea that God is grieving for His People – the Body of Christ. I have prayed earnestly that they might be restored and find God’s Love, Mercy and Compassion again. Silly me. He is grieving for me and every other person who attends, serves and leads church but are dysfunctional members of His Body. Consumed by pride in pursuit of vainglory – we lash out at others but cry out pleading for revival. Who is God after? Everyone. He rejoices over one lost sheep that is returned. We will not reach the world with Jesus or experience revival until we settle things within ourselves and return the House of God to be filled with His Glory. Philippians 2 is unity among God’s People for which we must strive. One heart – one mind in Jesus Christ. Lord, show us how to get there from here. When we think God cannot do it without us. It is pride. When we sit down and refuse to do anything. It is pride. Anytime I become greater than those around me, it is pride or vainglory. I am devastated that I might be the reason God’s Glory is not thickly around us saturating the community and changing the atmosphere drawing people closer. My life, attitude and action should make others want the God I serve. If my attitude or actions are barring the door of salvation, repentance, healing or deliverance – Jesus move me. Make me conscious of every soul I come in contact with each day in every place. Jesus reveal to me any area dominated by pride or vainglory. I want to crucify that flesh and circumcise my heart to you again. Lord, let them only see Jesus.

Psalm 115:1 (NIV)

Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

 

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