Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Process of Maniupulation

Remember last week when I talked about using my high level of holiness to get the guy? Well, this week I’m going to talk about how I was pretty sure I could manipulate God with my prayers.

Ever heard the phrase, “blind love”? Yeah…we’ll blame it on that…

At one point in the past I was dating someone that I could have seen myself marrying at the time. Going in to the relationship I really wanted it to be different than the relationships I had been in previously. I desired for this go-round to be God-honoring, making Christ the center of our lives individually and collectively.

And I pretty much faked myself out for the majority of the relationship.

I recently looked through my journal from that time period and saw pages flooded with prayers that said things like, “Lord, please draw us both in to you,” and “Father, my desire is to honor You and You alone,” and also, “God if this ever becomes about anything other than You, I pray You end it.”

Shortly after this relationship ended (and when I say shortly, I mean the next day), I read Timothy Keller’s book “Counterfeit Gods.” Through reading this book I began to realize that I was trying to manipulate God with my prayers. Even though I was praying “Christian-y” prayers, my heart was saying something completely different. My desire wasn’t necessarily to honor God, it was just to be with this man. In my heart what I meant was, “Lord, I really like this guy, and You know that…so, just make it happen. We both love You, and this ‘season of dating’ is just for kicks. I know we’re both good to go with You.”

My deepest hearts desire during that season was just to get through and move on to the next stage with this guy. I thought that just because I was praying ‘good prayers’ about my relationship that it would work out my way. I didn’t really care what God’s way was at the time. I was saying/writing these prayers just to look good to God and to keep the guy. Did you catch the part earlier when I said the relationship ended? Yeah, wasn’t the best plan.

So what’s the point in this story? Don’t make prayer all about you. When Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray in Matthew chapter 6 (aka The Lord’s Prayer), He doesn’t tell them to fake God out and to pray with selfish motives. He tells them to recognize God’s holiness and praise Him for it, to seek God’s will, to pray for daily provision, to pray for forgiveness, to seek what God has for them, not what they have for God.

Now, do I believe we should go to the Father with our concerns, desires, etc.? Yes. But do I think I should continue in a pattern of trying to fake God out to get what I want? No.

My challenge for the week: be honest with yourself and your motives in your prayer life. Is prayer a way for God to shape you or for you to shape God?

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Using God to get the Guy

This is a story of how I used God to get the guy. Or at least, how I kept telling myself I was doing certain things to grow in my relationship with Christ, but really I was just doing things that were spiritual to get a guy’s attention.

And also how it’s not that great of an idea to do such things.

I am not a morning person. When I was in high school, during the summertime especially, my mom would get mad at me because I would sleep until noon. That’s how much I don’t like mornings…I didn’t even want to be awake during them.

However, you throw a guy I like in to the mix, I wake up before the alarm goes off. Every time.

A few years ago this guy I liked was in a Bible study that met at 6am once a week, so it became my mission to really grow in my faith by attending this Bible study. And when I say “grow in my faith” I really mean, “get up super early, look as put together as possible, go to this Bible study for a hour so homeboy sees me really loving Jesus, drink as much coffee as possible to be as alert as possible for the time we’re all together, then go back to my dorm and go back to sleep before class starts 3 hours later.”

Not only would I go to this study, I would basically do anything “spiritual” that I could to get on his holy radar: tweet Bible verses, join other studies and make sure I plastered it all over social media, get in to deep conversations to show how in tune with the Spirit I was.

I may not be the greatest person.

But that’s how my mind worked. I thought that if I put myself out there and flaunted my faith in front of this guy, he would fall for me and we would live happily ever after.

Que the game show sound effects: “WWWHHAAAWWAAAAAA”

My master plan didn’t work quite like I thought it would. My heart became more invested in this man than it did in Christ during that season.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m the only one that works like this. I think we can use our relationship with God to try to manipulate our way in to lots of things: friendships, relationships, certain social groups. And maybe it’s not even an overt thing…maybe we don’t even recognize that we are pursuing other things through God.

The point of sharing this short story of The Life & Times of Kayla Smith (more commonly known as the blockbuster hit, “Frozen”**) , is that we need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.

The point of going to God is to get God. The point of following Jesus is not so I can have all these other things added to my life.

This concept has been talked about a lot in the Christian circles lately in other blogs, books, podcasts, etc., but I still need it to be beaten in to my head constantly.

I can’t live my life using God to get other things. I need to live my life just going to God for the sake of God. That’s it.

A verse I shared last week is applicable again tonight: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”-Psalm 73: 25

This is my prayer this week for us all, that our eyes would not be focused on all the “extras” but on God alone.

**kidding about the “Frozen” thing…but wouldn’t that be AWESOME?!

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I Sometimes Think I’m Better Than You

One of my favorite psalms to read when I’m feeling particularly self-righteous is Psalm 73. In this psalm, the author Asaph writes of his envy of the people around him, and that is something that I can relate to.

I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (verse 3)
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. (verse 12)
All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. (verse 13)

Multiple times in my life I have thought like this. I look at those around me and think, “seriously?! They got the promotion? They got married, to THAT person?! They’re___________(fill in the blank of whatever I’m not at the moment)?!”

I’m so caught up in my selfishness that I miss the whole point. I miss that my life isn’t about me. I miss that I’m not staring in the lead role in this movie of life. I miss that God is the Creator and I am the creation.

I say to myself, “Pocahontas, you are such a good person, you follow all the rules, you check most things off of your to-do list daily, why do you not have what everyone else has? You’re a wwwaaayyy better person than most, so why do they leave the party with all the goodie bags?!”

Asaph recognizes that he be actin a fool himself. He continues on in the psalm:

But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. (verses 16-18)
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterword you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…But for me it is good to be near God; I have made The Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. (verses 23-26, 28)

I am not the point of my life, Jesus is. My flesh and my heart will fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I sometimes think I’m better than you and it frustrates me. I get mad about the fact that I don’t have what others do.

But then God gently draws me up onto His lap and reminds me that I have Him, that it is good for me to be near Him. That I’m not better than anyone, yet He still loves me. And He loves you too, because that’s the kind of God He is.

And that is the greatest possession of all.

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chasing the carrot

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The above picture is courtesy of the internets. It’s amazing what you can find via a search engine.

This picture also represents how I occasionally feel.

Sometimes I get it into my head that God is dangling this carrot out in front of me and if I only try harder then He’ll finally reward me with that strange, orange vegetable.

Replace “carrot” with “marriage.” Or “kids.” Or “job.”

See where this is going?

Am I the only one that sometimes feels like God is holding out on me? That if I could only check more things off my list, get up earlier every day, read my Bible for 3 straight hours, etc., then God will give me what He’s dangling out in front of me?

I often tell myself if I would only get my self together and prepare my heart/mind to be a good wife, then and only then will God bring my man along.

The problem with my thinking is that He isn’t dangling ANYTHING in front of me. He has given me Himself. He has given me redemption through the blood of His Son. And He isn’t holding anything back from me “just because.”

My parents got us a pool when I was younger, back in the day when my sister was still shorter than me. I remember when she and I would go swimming together and she would want me to hold her in the pool. I, being the super cool and funny trickster I am, would say, “okay, just swim to me.”

And as she would I would slowly inch back farther and farther from her, trying to make it seem as if she was never going to reach me.

I may not have been the nicest older sister.

If the story were God as me (which I am NOT…it’s for illustration purposes ONLY…don’t get mad), and me as my sister, God would have reached up on the deck, put me on His hip, and swam around that 24 foot circle of delight, holding me all day long.

God isn’t dangling a carrot for us to chase after. He isn’t swimming away when we’re trying to reach Him. He’s standing in the water with His arms open wide begging for us to trust Him and get in the water.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

-Matthew 7:11

Nothing we could ever chase after will be as good as God Himself.

So let’s decide together to chase after Jesus, leave the carrot behind, and just jump in the water.

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