In Awe! – pt 3

Through Coloured Glasses

One dark, rainy night a salesman had a flat tire on a lonely road.  To his dismay he found he had no lug wrench to remove his tire.  In the distance he saw a farmhouse and he set out on foot thinking “Surely the farmer will have a lug wrench.”  But would he come to the door?  And if he did he will probably be furious at being woken up.  He’ll probably say “What is the big idea getting me out of bed in the middle of the night?”

The salesman began to get upset and thought “That farmer is a selfish clod for refusing to help me.”  Finally reaching the house and feeling frustrated and drenched the salesman reached out and banged on the door.  “Whose there?” came the gruff response from an upstairs window.  “You know good and well who it is” yelled the salesman, his face red with anger.  “And you can keep your old lug wrench, I wouldn’t borrow it if it was the last one in the country.”

It is an old parable but how much of our lives is governed by our perception of things.  The views we have, the beliefs we have formed, and the expectations we have which govern our view of the world, and life, and even the people around us.  Our families, culture, friends, and circumstances all work on us to form a view of just about everything around us, including ourselves.  No matter who we are, all of us have a set of glasses, or way of seeing things, that tint life just a little.  The unconscious beliefs we have cause us to see things a certain way, often without us realizing we are filtering life.  Our views  don’t have to be correct for them to feel deeply valid.  Even the things we get offended over are a result of our view of things.  Someone once said “Once you hate someone, everything they do is offensive.”

As we look at awe it is important to look at the way we see life and the filters we have in place.  Our sense of awe is able to be redirected any where we choose it to be as we looked at in my last post.  We choose not whether we have awe, as we are all created with a capacity for awe, we simply get to choose what that awe is directed at.  And that decision will direct our lives in dramatic ways because awe has a current.

The problem with our coloured glasses is we have learned to see God through them as well.  So instead of seeing the true reality of God as He is and for who He is we tend to filter Him through our culture and through our circumstances.  We look at what is happening in our lives, or in our world, and come up with an image of God that we can then choose to push away as unwanted, or try to follow what we think is God.  We have all seen and heard many news reports of the things people have done saying God told them to.  And we probably all know people who want nothing to do with God because of what they see around them.  This is interpreting God through our coloured glasses and we always get an incorrect image when we do.

There is a lot of things that contribute to this.  Maybe it was the prayers for a family member you felt went unanswered.  Maybe it is the circumstances in your life that leaves you feeling like God is punishing you for something, or as some Christians say, God is teaching me something.  All of these things start with a slanted view of God that allow our coloured view to remain, and what is currently happening proves and justifies our beliefs.  But just like the wise person who said earlier “Once you hate someone, everything they do is offensive.”

I experienced this in my own life.  I grew up in church and hated the rules and regulations.  I had an image of God that was angry, vengeful and uninterested in my life.  His only involvement was to quickly judge me for anything I did wrong and that didn’t measure up.  And as I grew up I began to hate God.  He didn’t respond when I prayed.  He didn’t answer me when I talked to Him.  And when I messed up I was sure to feel less than human.  And as I grew older I chose to have nothing to do with God at all.  For many, many years I walked my own path.  But that didn’t alter who God was.  Just because I believed something about Him didn’t make it true.

And many of the things you may be feeling about Him may be based in your interperpetation of God through your circumstance.  It is something we all do.  Who is God and are you willing to have your understanding change?  For us to truly have an awe for God requires us to see Him as He is, and not for who we have decided He is.  After many years of being angry with God I encountered Him for who He really is.  And came to know deeply and personally how much I am loved and how precious I am to Him.  But this can only happen when we are willing to let go of our perception and have our glasses removed to see things as they are, not for what we belief them to be.

Does awe of God’s goodness interpret life for you? Or do the hardships of life cause you to question His goodness?

Got Faith?


How do I know if I have faith?  For many people faith is simply a belief they have.  Something they can agree is true.  It may not change anything, and for some it doesn’t guide or direct their lives at all.  But is this really faith?

Faith is a pretty deep subject, and one that can create a lot of discussion, and at times arguments.  If we don’t know what faith is it can leave us feeling lost in a storm of differing opinions and beliefs.   Faith isn’t about everything turning out ok, and it isn’t about being blessed and prosperous.  Just as Joseph, they young man with the coat of many colors, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, and imprisoned for something he didn’t do for 13 years because of what God spoke to him about.  Faith isn’t about everything being ok, and it has nothing

at all to do with our feelings.

Faith isn’t a feeling.  It is a choice to trust God even when the road ahead seems uncertain.  As we learned in a earlier post Faith is “Believing that God is who He said He is, and that He will do what He said He will do.”


But is faith supposed to be more than just something I can agree is true? Something that I can mentally state with some emphasis, but that doesn’t guide my life?  For many people faith is just that.  That is why people can say they believe in God and yet live like He doesn’t exist.  Because faith is something we agree is true, but doesn’t affect our lives.

Unfortunately this isn’t a biblical view of faith.  When you read scripture you see that faith creates action in those who have it.  In fact the bible is pretty clear, if there is no action, there is no faith.  James 2:19-20 says “Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?”

So if there is no action, there is no faith!  You can have action without faith, but you cannot have faith without action. Faith isn’t something that we give mental assent to.  It is something that drives us forward when everything around us says we should stop.  Faith is what allowed Abraham to walk out into the desert not knowing where he was going.  Because He believed that God was who He said He was and that He would do what He said He would do.  And because Abraham had faith when God said go, he could go.  Faith is what allowed Noah to build a great boat, when there had never been a boat before.

Faith is what allowed Joseph to endure everything that happened to him and not give up, although at times he probably thought of doing so.  Faith creates action.  The action it creates may be simply to hold our course and keep going.  Or maybe it is praying for the sick people you meet, regardless of what does or doesn’t happen.  Or simply sharing Jesus with people around you, even though it hasn’t gone well in the past.

Faith requires action, or there is no faith.  It doesn’t require us to make anything happen, because then we are trusting in our ability.  All of the hero’s of faith listed throughout scripture we simply people who believed God, and put one foot in front of the other doing what they knew to do, and what God had asked of them, simply because it was God who asked and they knew that God is trustworthy and faithful, and would always do what He said He would do.

Sometimes all God is waiting for from us is for us to simply take a leap and expect Him to catch us.  Big leap or small it doesn’t matter as long as it is faith moving us into taking the leap.


Unmasking our false self Pt 2

true-identity.jpgLast time we looked at the nature of our false self.  In every person there is a true identity which is a gift from God when we were created and not something that we have to create, and a false identity which we have learned to become by our lifestyle, upbringing, and circumstances.

Our sense of identity is built up over the years as we grow.  It begins as we discover that our behaviors create responses in others that if worked correctly will get us what we desire.  These behaviors are added to by the early realization that we can create ourselves so that we are seen in a positive light and helps us maintain our self-esteem.  And so our identity becomes something that we create around ourselves.

“Our basic style is often built around the things that were reinforced for us as children. It usually starts with the things we do well. Over time our repertoire of competencies grows, and we learn to live in a way that we think will work for us. This becomes “our way,” or what we simply think of as who we are.”  David G. Benner  Our abilities or lack of abilities form our sense of identity.  Those around us challenged us to achieve, or made us feel we could never be good enough, or we were told we were  a failure.  These and many other things created in us our sense of identity early in life, and have become the basis and foundation for our current behaviors.

Identifying our false self can be difficult if we are not willing to see ourselves differently than we currently do.  Because the false self is a facsimile and is not a secure state it can be very uncomfortable to look inside ourselves.  Our false self and the sense of security it brings us can be hard to let go of.  But the reality of who we are, and the great blessing that comes as we discover ourselves and the resulting sense of peace and security completely outweigh the risks of looking inside.

There are some trustworthy clues to discovering our false self if we are willing to look.  One of the first clues is a sense of defensiveness.  “Because of its fundamental unreality, the false self needs constant bolstering. Touchiness dependably points us to false ways of being. And the more prickly a person you are, the more you are investing in the defense of a false self.
Some people bristle easily if they are not taken seriously, thus betraying a need for others to see the self-importance that is so obvious to them. Others take themselves too seriously, perhaps being unable to laugh at themselves. Both reactions suggest ego inflation. Others have learned to mask these outward displays of defensiveness, but inner reactions of annoyance or irritation still point toward the presence of a false self.”

Touchiness and pettiness are fundamental characteristics of a false identity.  And the things that bother us most about others, our pet peeves, point to the falseness in our own identity.  “If laziness in others is what really bothers me, there is a good chance that discipline and performance form a core part of the false self that I embrace with tenacity. If it is playfulness and spontaneity in others that I find most annoying, then seriousness may be a central part of the self I protect and seek to project. If it is moral disregard that is particularly irritating in others, my false self is probably built around moral rectitude and self-righteousness. And if emotionality in others is what I most despise, emotional control is probably central to the script I have chosen to live.”

Compulsive behaviors are also an indicator of a false identity.  Our false identity is rooted in the perception that our value is dependent on external things like owning the latest and greatest things, or being the best at something.  As a result we compulsively pursue the things we see create value and security for us and preserve our sense of identity.

The constant pursuit of a false identity is the root of our unhappiness.  As we discover and grow into our true identity we find fulfillment, meaning and happiness because we are living life as we were meant to live.  And our value comes not from external things but on the value that we have as people.  As we begin to value and understand ourselves it opens the door to us valuing and understanding the people we come in contact with each and every day.

But it begins by being willing to take an honest look at ourselves even if we may not like what we see, and being willing to see some of the ways we live as actually supporting a false identity and not who we really are after all.  “The bondage in any false self is the bondage of having to keep up the illusion.”  David G. Benner