Is there anything sweeter than a good conscience, or more unnerving than being overwhelmed with guilt and shame?
Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.” The opposite is also true. Who can rest with a guilty conscience? We will find no peace in life without a peace-filled conscience! And there’s only one way to get it. Turn yourself in! Admit to a holy God that you have sinned. He is always ready to forgive, and His blood will cover any sin. Jesus actually died in order for us to finally have a clear conscience.
May we take these words to heart: “Conscience is God’s built-in warning system. Be very happy when it hurts. Be very worried when it doesn’t.”
We live in a world where all of us must fight becoming emotionally and spiritually numb. One of the prime causes of physical numbness is extreme cold.
The first stage of frostbite is something called frostnip. Bits of the face or fingers go numb due to prolonged exposure to extreme cold. If this frozen tissue can be thawed quickly, it can be saved.
Frozen in disappointment, loss and grief; it’s easy for a heart to grow cold. For many of us, survival means letting God warm up the places in our heart that have become numb.
One of the greatest warnings in Scripture concerns a cold or dead heart. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)
Only God can warm a frozen limb far from a cold heart!
Do you feel like you’re growing numb because you grieve over something you’ve lost that was precious to you? Emotional numbness is often caused by grief of the soul.
It reminds me of leprosy—and the first sign of the disease, which is a feeling of numbness. Without feeling pain, people injure themselves, and when the injuries become infected they can even lead to death.
The number of people who suffer from emotional leprosy could number in the billions. Because of our deep sense of loss, over time we cease to feel and become desensitized and unable to express emotion.
Grieving is a normal part of life, for a season. But we must never allow our grief to become a way of life. Ask Jesus to heal your grieving heart, and over time, He will.
In life, we all suffer loss. Many of us have lived through drugs, failed relationships, economic setbacks, habits, and addictions. Because of the emotional assaults these experiences can produce, we can become jaded and crusted emotionally.
Our grief over regrets can usher in a normal and healthy season of mourning, or it can hold tormenting emotions captive. The jolt of unfulfilled expectations, devastating events, or the death of a dream can infect our soul with anguish. Eventually an emotional and even spiritual dysfunction surfaces.
But there is hope. The Bible says, “You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief, and God welcomed you back…” (Isaiah 54:3, The Message) God can forgive and heal any aspect of our past when we allow Him too. Don’t give up! Let Jesus heal your broken heart.
Have you found your true identity, or are you looking for others to define who you are? So begins the charade of identity shopping: since I don’t know who I am, and you seem to know who you are, why don’t I try being like you for a while. Sadly, the shoe never fits!
If we cannot be true to ourselves, we’ve lost what most defines us: our identity.
God’s vision for our lives is the best of all possible options. Until we embrace His reality, we’ll vainly attempt to recreate ourselves in our own image—increasing our struggle with chronic emptiness.
Who are we really: a reflection of the latest celebrity—the imaginary persona of our dreams? Let God define who you are, and you’ll never regret who you have become.
Moments Define Us
When I was 19, my team won a college football game. Completely out of it, I shimmied to the top of the goal post as the crowd began to tear it down. The pole snapped and shook me off just four feet before it hit the ground.
A stranger walked up and said, “You’re an idiot!” It was a defining moment! Until then I didn’t know who I was. Now, I had clarity. I was an idiot!
This humorous image didn’t describe all of me, but it was a partial view. How many of us wake up eager to climb the imaginary goalposts of shallow recognition, not realizing we’ll soon fall?
I may have bowed to foolishness then, but I don’t want that to be my legacy. My Creator best defines who I am. I will gaze into His eyes to see my true reflection.
Why do so many of us care what celebrities are doing? It doesn’t require significant insight to see that celebrities can be as numb and empty as the next person.
Trying to reflect flawed humanity merely provides a distorted image of our true self. True manhood, once hard-wired to protect, has digressed into an impotent army of predators. Women, fashioned in part for beauty, have become specimens to be tasted.
Where have the great men and women of honor gone? Even the natural order of human genders wanders astray without God’s vision.
“God, You are the only Person whose life I want to reflect.” You alone promise: “When you search for Me, you will find Me; if you seek Me with all your heart…” (Jeremiah 29:13, NRSV)
In my late teens I had one date with the beautiful and bright daughter of a prominent New York City law school dean. I was 18 going on 8. She was 18 going on 28. After a couple of excruciating hours in my presence she slammed the door in my face saying, “Typical!”
Just what I always wanted to be: another slug in the rainforest of life. I can still vividly remember standing alone in the hallway of her parent’s high-rise Manhattan apartment, frozen in adolescence, feeling branded as hopelessly immature.
What causes someone, created by God to be exceptional, to remain typical? I was pursuing the wrong person. It would take a few more years before I was willing to submit to my Creator. Since then, my life has been anything but typical.
What has deluded an entire generation into thinking of skulls as a fashion statement—to identify with the faceless symbols of death?
What potion turns a prince into a frog? Perhaps it’s just an outward reflection of emotional un-wholeness. Many in the next generation are frozen in adolescence.
A half-century of children have grown up with pleasure at their fingertips. Yet, the comforts of life don’t create growth. No one’s ever been transformed sitting in a hot tub eating Ben & Jerry’s. For many, laziness is the comfort-of-choice, and fantasies the preferred pastime.
Neglecting God will cause your teen years to continue indefinitely!
But choosing God will allow you to leave the broad land of fantasy for a narrow inheritance of promise and destiny. And it’s guarantied to exceed your wildest dreams!
Are you living a fulfilled life?
“Suspended animation” is a scientific term describing the slowing of life processes by external means without termination. Breathing, heartbeat, and other involuntary functions may still occur, but they can only be detected by artificial means.
This state of metabolic hibernation is reminiscent of human emotional lethargy. Learning to work through pain is an important part of developing maturity, and even getting healed. Yet many would rather live in a state of perpetual adolescence than deal with the wounds of life.
The pain of divorce leaves us indifferent to marriage. The wounds of face-to-face rejection leave us searching for online connection. The economic recession further perpetuates our regression.
Only our willingness to cry out to Jesus for help will lead to the abundant life He promised.
There’s a scene in Shakespeare’s Macbeth where Lady Macbeth sleepwalks, tormented with guilt for murdering her father-in-law. In her dream, unable to wash her hands of the blood from the murder, she ultimately drowns in remorse and goes insane.
The corridors of earth are jammed with sleepwalkers, mangled mortals tormented by the guilt and shame of past actions—yet to be resolved. And what’s sad is that sleepwalkers often have little or no memory of the incident at all. Although their eyes are open, their expression is dim and glazed over.
I can’t tell you how many times in recent years I’ve spoken to dim and glazed over individuals and audiences.
The Bible challenges us to awaken, “Wake up from your sleep, climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!” (Ephesians 5:14, The Message)
Many times in life people may surround us, yet we feel completely alone. It produces a numbness that can even be transferred to those closest to us. I’ve seen it spread across families and churches.
Right now, I’m so alarmed by its present effects I often find my heart screaming, “Wake up! You’re created for far more than this! Stop wasting your magnificent life!”
But people would think I was mad if I ran down the street yelling what I’m really thinking. So, I stuff it, and cry, and pray, and ask God to revive us once again.
The church in America will sink into unconsciousness, unless God sends a revival to the American church.
If you can hear this, please pray for God to revive us all!
You’re Not Bored
Do you think you’re bored? You’re not! You may actually be numb.
Everything God does is designed to lead us into intimacy with Him, to set us free from our boredom, loneliness, and self-absorbed distractions. He loves us enough to not allow us to be satisfied with less than Himself.
The Law of Displacement states that you cannot move away from a thought, you can only move toward a new thought. God wants to replace our misguided thoughts, fixed on idle pleasures, with His new, perfect ones, fixed on what’s truly eternal.
Unless we guard the epicenter of our affections—our heart—we’ll never live the life we’ve dreamed of.
God’s not trying to crash your party. He’s inviting you to His! And only His will last!
Praying for Illusions
A woman went to her pastor for prayer. She told him that a certain actor in a soap opera was in trouble and asked him to join in interceding for the TV character. The surprised pastor responded, “But this person is not real!” She quickly answered, “I know, I know, but he really needs our prayers.”
Every day people spend hours of virtual, face-to-face, TV time with media celebrities. It’s created a new form of relationship based on the “illusion of intimacy” that is both entrapping and “insidiously subliminal in its working.”
We’ve been created in the image and likeness of God, called to be princes and princesses in His Kingdom. Yet, when we obsess over celebrities and famous personalities we spend our lives trying to reflect flawed, deformed humanity, not our perfect Creator.
God is not a God of can’t and don’t, He’s a God of can and do! But only His will satisfies.
The word vicarious is defined as “experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person.” When we live vicariously, we exchange their imaginary lives for our hopes and dreams—their “reality” for our reality.
God alone can connect us to the eternal pleasures. But the only hope we have to overcome the seduction of destructive pleasures is to resist lesser pleasures for the God-given greater ones.
In essence, we trade an eternity of pleasure in God’s presence for a few nights in a shabby motel called Earth. Learn to enjoy your God-designed reality. Embrace the truth that there is more than what you can see in front of you!
Over and over again, the devil offers an endless menu of numbing substitutes for oneness with God.
Morphine was originally developed as a cough suppressant. Yet, by the late 1800s, it had become a popular recreational drug. A German drug company named Bayer believed it had found a morphine replacement. So it advertised diacetylmorphine as an over the counter “non-addictive morphine substitute.” The new product Heroin derived its name from the Greek word heros, because of its seemingly heroic affects on the user.
Unfortunately, if you’ve ever known a heroin addict, the last thing they are is heroic. As is always the case, one numb-substitute leads to another. Accept no substitutes. Only one Person can provide the peace you need. His name is Jesus!
Are you struggling with an addiction?
In an attempt to fill our deep sense of un-fulfillment we all tend to gravitate to whatever means of comfort, entertainment, or even alter-identity is available to us,
If we don’t embrace what God designed to inspire us we’ll eventually embrace what the devil intends to destroy us.
Like the strongman, Samson, how many have lost their strength in Delilah’s lap? Or, like King David, surfed the Internet one too many nights, only to be enticed by Bathsheba?
Unless we allow God to make our lives exceptional, there’ll be nothing wondrous about us. We’ll be stranded in history’s long line of moral zombies and culture clones—false reflections of fallen humanity, not flawless incarnations of Christ-like morality.
Look in God’s Word and remember who you really are.
Two Immutable Facts
Everyone can see from nature’s unspoiled creation that there’s a perfect God. In addition, we all get a shot at following our inner conscience. The combination of these two immutable facts leaves everyone without excuse.
There is a God. He’s perfect, and we’re not. We’ve all sinned and come short of God’s perfect standard. Only one Person could absorb the consequence for our sin—God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We’re made in the image of our Creator, but given a free will. We must choose to reflect either the imagination of fallen man or embrace the destiny of a holy God.
The Bible says, “‘Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for Myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to Me.’” (2Corinthians 6:17b–18a, The Message)