Spiritual Narcissism



Have you ever met a spiritual narcissist?

Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s idealized self-image and attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.

Doing all the religious and right things often gives us a feeling of self-importance. As a result, all the praise and the admiration from others can spin out of control very quickly if we aren’t walking in humility. As Christians, we are IN CHRIST!

It’s not about us … but sometimes we like to make it all about US.

When we do that, we trick ourselves into thinking that we don’t need God’s grace and that we can do it without God’s help. This is called works-based salvation. Works-based salvation is a type of spiritual narcissism that can lead to anxiety, loss of important relationships, and eventually lead to burnout.

Narcissism is the reliance on self or knowledge rather than reliance on God and the Holy Spirit.

Self-righteousness is like a bottomless cup; you can pour and pour, you will never be able to fill it. Why? Because pouring yourself into yourself adds nothing to you.

NOTHING + NOTHING always = NOTHING!

Instead, we should accept God’s righteousness rather than trying to accumulate our own. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tell us, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

If we are to be transformed into Christ’s image we have to take off the mask of self-righteousness and allow the Spirit to lead us.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” ~Paul~

Ephesians 2:8-10 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. In just three verses, Paul delivers a powerful message in eleven keywords and phrases. Let’s break it down together:

1. GRACE: By grace, we have the riches of His grace that we could never earn or keep. His Grace is His free gift and His free power available to you as heirs to the Kingdom. So, REJOICE in that!

2. FAITH: The way we receive our salvation is through faith. Faith is not a “work”, it could never be a “work.” It does not merit salvation; it is only the means by which one accepts God’s free gift of salvation.

3. NOT US: There is nothing we could have done or ever could do to receive Him. We need Jesus, even to accept Jesus. He pursues us and calls to us and at the divine moment He set for us, we hear his call and even then we rely on Him to hear about His gift and promise for us.

4. GOD’S GIFT: When a person puts out their hand to take a gift someone else offers, they are doing nothing to earn or deserve that gift. The giver gets credit for the gift, not the receiver. Likewise, faith is the same way.

5. NOT WORKS: Are you trying to work your way into God’s favor, or worse, a never-ending cycle of approval from people? You may even try to stay busy to avoid having to deal with some areas of healing God wants to walk you through. You can do a lot of “right” things, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s THE “God thing” for your life.

6. NO ONE CAN BOAST: All the glory will go to God for accomplishing salvation. As Jesus so graciously reminds us in John 14:6, “I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It’s impossible for anyone else to be able to provide salvation.

7. HIS ARTWORK: Rather than salvation being a masterpiece that we have produced, believers are a masterpiece that God has produced. Even though we are all being conformed to His image and walking the same journey through sanctification, we are all different works of art.

8. CREATED IN CHRIST: As a master worker, God has created us in Christ Jesus. It is the kind of work only HE can do. “In Christ alone my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song.”

9. FOR GOOD WORKS: Good works are not the roots from which salvation grows but the fruit God intends it to bear. When you are led by the Spirit, your tree will be filled with good fruit. 

10. GOD PREPARED WORKS: God knew the plans for our life before the creation of the Earth. Nothing surprises Him, even when we try to take matters into our own hands.

11. WALK IN THEM: God orders our steps and has prepared them beforehand. We should go to Him and seeking His plan for our works. Everything we do for the Kingdom should be us walking out God’s plan for our lives, rather than the works we think we should do.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you trying to do it by yourself? 
  • Have you allowed spiritual narcissism to drive your motivation?

If you have, it’s ok, there is a solution. Seek His face, spend some time in the Secret Place with the Father and ask Him to show you what He wants you doing.

Don’t become a spiritual narcissist!

Let Jesus drive!


The Battle Between Our Ears



In her book “Get out of Your Head,” Jennie Allen suggests that the biggest battle that believers face is the battle between our ears.

To her point, I recently read that our brain produces 3,000 thoughts per hour. If we’re awake 18 hours a day, we are processing approximately 54,000 thoughts each day. How are you processing these thoughts?

Are you blindly following the rabbit trail, or are you intentional in guarding your mind? Are you taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ? Let’s take a deeper dive into what Paul is saying about this to the Corinthians.

“Take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

Are you destroying arguments and lofty opinions that are raised in your mind that go against the knowledge of God? If your thoughts don’t line up with the Word of God, if they disagree with who God says you are, you’re currently losing the battle between your ears. This explains why so many people cry out to God, asking “why” when hard times come their way.

The unprepared Christian becomes a defeated Christian.

Be encouraged, though, if you want to overcome, your Heavenly Father has equipped you with the tools you need to fight the battle and WIN! Believe me when I say you can’t fix what you won’t face. If you don’t get this, you won’t stand firm in fearful times.

Here are four ways to get prepared and win the war ahead.

1. PREPARE FOR BATTLE.

It is imperative to recognize we live in a hostile environment with a hostile enemy. One of Satan’s most effective strategies, and therefore one of our greatest dangers as a believer, is the delusion and disbelief that warfare isn’t necessary.

Failure to plan IS a plan to fail.

As Christians, we must not ignore the malicious and deliberate conflict between good and evil continually raging in the invisible supernatural realm. But, don’t be discouraged! God’s strength is more than enough for each individual battle. When we choose to follow Him, there is no need to fear because God is on our side.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:6-7

2. PUSH THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS.

Scripture is clear about Satan’s real and personal existence. He was once the chief angel, the anointed cherub, the star of the morning, who sparkled with all the jewels of created beauty—until he rebelled against his Creator and tried to usurp His power and authority.

Satan first appears in Scripture in the form of a serpent, as he tempted Adam and Eve. Jesus not only spoke about Satan but spoke with him. Paul, Peter, James, John, and the writer of Hebrews all speak of Satan as a personal being. Understand that Satan is real, and he has a game plan. He brought sin into the world, and the whole world now lies in his power. His ultimate desire is to turn you away from God and back to your sinful nature.

In the Bible, we see Satan…

  • Opposing God’s work (Zech. 3:1)
  • Perverting God’s Word (Matt. 4:6)
  • Hindering God’s servant (1 Thess. 2:18)
  • Hindering the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:4)
  • Snaring the wicked (1 Tim. 3:7)
  • Appearing as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14)
  • Fighting with the archangel Michael (Jude 9)

Stand firm. In James 4:7, we are called to resist and stand firm, but don’t overlook the beginning of this verse, which says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” Brothers and sisters, if you are not submitted, I can assure you that you will not have the power to resist and stand firm.

Do you lack joy, feeling like a constant failure, always falling back into old patterns with no hope of ever getting out, comparing yourself to others? You are probably in a spiritual battle, getting bruised and beaten because you weren’t prepared.

Let’s take a look at Ephesians, where we see our need for God’s help and learn how to armor up for battle so we can be strong in the Lord.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-20

3. PUT ON THE FULL ARMOR OF GOD.

To operate in the fullness of Christ and battle with the power and strength of God, a believer must put on the full spiritual armor that He freely supplies. We must put it on daily, wear it intentionally, treat it as the life-long companion that it is, and allow it to equip us to resist Satan and his army.

The Belt of Truth. Being girded with God’s truth allows us to stand firm in every situation and helps us expose every area where Satan tries to spread lies or “half-truths.”

The Breastplate of Righteousness. Many, if not most, of the emotional and relational problems Christians experience are caused by a lack of personal holiness. Put on the breastplate of righteousness and allow it to protect your heart from all condemnation and corruption.

The Gospel of Peace. Today, the church is often guilty of supplying believers with the paper armor of good advice, programs, activities, techniques, and methods—when what they need is to be equipped to follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting to boldly share the Gospel with those whom He places in our lives. Let’s prepare to share the Gospel of peace everywhere we go.

The Shield of Faith. We cross a bridge with the faith that it will support us. We eat food trusting that it is not poisoned. We put our lives in the security of airplanes, trains, ships, buses, and automobiles, confident that they are safe. How much more confidence should we have when we take up the shield of faith? Before a battle, Roman soldiers would saturate their shields in water, ensuring the “fiery darts” used by their enemies would be extinguished upon hitting the shield. I encourage you to pick up your shield every day and saturate it with faith that nothing can overcome you because He is with you. These battle shields were also designed to connect so the armies could advance together as a strong wall, not allowing penetration. Don’t underestimate the power of linking your shield with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Helmet of Salvation. There are three aspects of salvation for the believer. The first is freedom from the penalty of sin, called Justification: “just-as-if I had never sinned.” Second, the gradual process of Sanctification, which is freedom from the power of sin as we continually grow and mature to be conformed to the image of Christ. Last but certainly not least is Glorification, freedom from the very presence of sin. This is eternal life with our Father in heaven, and the moment we will finally meet our Lord and Savior.

The Sword of the Spirit. This is the Bible—the Word of God. 2 Timothy says of the Bible, that it is Profitable, Infallible, Complete, Authoritative, Effective, Determinative, Defensive, and Offensive. It was Jesus’ weapon of choice when He was being tempted in the wilderness. He spoke the Word when the enemy tried to tempt and deceive Him, and it should be stored in our hearts as well in preparation for our daily battles. The Word is capable of not only inflicting blows but also deflecting the fiery darts of the enemy. Every time God’s Word is used to lead a person to salvation, it gives witness to its power to cut through Satan’s dominion of darkness and bring the light of life to a lost soul.

4. PRAY AT ALL TIMES.

In the words of my mentor, Dr. Norman Geisler, all means all, and that’s all that all means.

Pray at ALL times! In his Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan tells of Christian’s weapon called prayer, which, when everything else failed, would enable him to defeat the fiends in the valley of the shadow.

Prayer is the closing theme of Ephesians, and though closely related to God’s armor, it is not mentioned as part of it because it is much more than that. Prayer is not merely another godly weapon, as crucial as those weapons are.

We are to be in prayer at ALL TIMES because prayer is the very spiritual air that the soldier of Christ breathes. It is the all-pervasive strategy in which warfare is fought, and it’s also time spent cultivating a relationship with the Father.

During prayer, you aren’t just listing out your wants and needs, but you are getting still to  listen and learn His voice, so when the enemy tries to whisper lies into the battlefield between your ears, you can quickly discern the lie and take the thought captive.

FINDING PEACE

Each time his team loses a game, a well-known professional football coach tells the players in the locker room afterward: “Gentlemen, I told you how to win. You didn’t do what I told you, and you lost.”

Just like an athlete, a Christian can have great skills, the best training, the best equipment, and a good understanding of what he is supposed to do—and yet fail because he does not follow instructions.

If a football player does poorly when he fails to follow his coach, how much worse does a Christian fare when he fails to follow his Lord? Lack of obedience brings a lack of joy and peace. “The only joyful Christian is the obedient Christian.”

Let’s spring into action today and follow these steps to obedience so we can experience an abundance of joy and peace.

  1. Identify the weakness in your armor.
  2. Take action and armor up before you become weak and battle-weary.
  3. Find accountability and link your shields together in faith.
  4. Submit yourself to God so you can stand firm and resist the devil.

Let this truth sink into your heart today because this is important, and it matters. It mattered enough to be written in the Bible, so it’s a part of your walk with Christ.

Don’t let the enemy win the battle between your ears because you decided to disobey the “coach.” Let’s live a victorious life in Christ.


GOD ♡’s IMPEЯFECT PEOPLE


Do you think God got a good deal when He got you? Someone once told me they don’t like going to church because churches are full of hypocrites. I beg to differ! Churches are NOT FULL of hypocrites. There’s plenty of room for more. 

image of empty church pews

TRUTH: God is better at saving than you could ever be at sinning.

“God doesn’t work through us because we’re flawless. Rather, He works through us in spite of our imperfections. This generation has forgotten that the gospel message does not clean up and shine the outside of a person; it bores into the very heart and soul of a person and radically changes that person from the inside forever.” A.W. TOZER

We are coming up on Valentine’s Day. It’s become quite a commercial holiday, and legend tells us that it began as an act of love. According to britannica.com, there are several legends out there on Valentine’s Day’s history and how it all started.  

Regardless of the sources on the world wide web, it’s no legend or myth that we are loved beyond measure by our Heavenly Father — it far surpasses any amount of roses, chocolates, or cards. The Creator of the universe sent His Son to die for us. He took our imperfections, our SIN, upon himself and suffered to death. Romans 8:34-39 reminds us that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ for those who believe in Him. The good news is no matter how many steps you have taken away from God, it still only takes one step to get back.

“And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'” Mark 2:17

I’m reminded of 20 imperfect people in the Bible:

  • EVE was tempted and deceived
  • ADAM couldn’t resist
  • NOAH got drunk and naked
  • JONAH ran from God
  • ABRAHAM was too old
  • SARAH was impatient
  • LOT chose the wrong company
  • MOSES stuttered
  • SAMSON was fooled
  • DAVID had an affair
  • GIDEON was insecure
  • SOLOMON had 1000 wives
  • PETER had a temper
  • MARTHA was a worrier
  • THOMAS was a doubter
  • ZACCHAEUS was short
  • JOHN couldn’t stay awake
  • RAHAB was a prostitute
  • PAUL was a murderer
  • LAZARUS was dead

They were not perfect. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. Need more evidence? 

Let’s get real. Let’s get on our knees before God.

Let’s learn from #10 on that list, David.

God Loves Imperfect PeopleThe Leadership of David
David was not the default leader in his original family of origin as he was the youngest son. Typically, the younger siblings in any family will develop fewer characteristics of leadership than the other children. David was a man with a balanced character who was in rhythm with God. The Scripture calls him “a man after God’s own heart.” Although he was a remarkable man, David’s leadership life certainly took a toll on him personally and those close to him.

“True leadership, even when it is practiced by the most mature and emotionally stable person, always exacts a toll on the individual.”

David is a central figure not only in the Old Testament but in all of history. More is documented in the Bible about David than any other biblical character. God chose to commit a large portion of the text to present the good and the bad parts of David’s character and life. A total of sixty-six chapters of the Old Testament are dedicated to David. In addition, he is referenced another fifty-nine times in the New Testament. David stands out in history as a leader of leaders. His humble beginnings as a shepherd did not hold him back from becoming one of the most powerful men of all time. Further, he is one of the most pivotal personalities in the Christian heritage.

“David is the original alpha male.”

“A Man”
There is no doubt that David was a man’s man. He is described as being very handsome and also a gifted musician and warrior. To say that he is a man is also to acknowledge that David was a fallen man and had sin issues. Many pulpits have painted a picture of David that is saturated with idealistic distortion. David struggled with many types of sins, including murder and adultery. Sleeping with Bathsheba while her husband was at war is an example of how David lost touch, at least temporarily, with his moral compass. David had numerous wives and concubines. Despite this fact, he seemed never to be satisfied.

 “When David is at his best, he displays both competence and character. When he is at his worst, though he sometimes lacks competence, he always lacks character.”

“After God’s Own Heart”
man reading bible, david and goliathDavid is not just called “a man.” He is called a man “after God’s own heart.” Because God’s greatness was being expressed through David, he developed a balanced personality that lacked the rigidity seen in his predecessor, King Saul. David spent his time and energy seeking God’s perspective on his situation. David was more than just a great leader. He was a great spiritual leader who spent extended time alone with God. Because of this commitment to seeking out God’s heart, David had both faith and favor. He was a born leader who balanced his actions in a way that showed both strength and weakness as well as both assertiveness and compliance.

“The most important thing spiritual leaders do is to cultivate their relationship with God.”

“Who Will Do God’s Will”
Psalm 119:1 declares, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.” David was a man after God’s own heart who was also willing to do God’s will. He was not always understood or appreciated, but he had a clear focus on seeking out God’s will and doing it.

What about you? What is stirring in your heart while you hear David’s story? Are you willing to be a man or woman after God’s own heart? Let me encourage you to seek Him and His will for your life. Find an accountability partner, strengthen your relationship with the Lord and become the great leader God calls each one of us to become in our own unique way. Let’s make God pleased with the deal He made for each of us.


What Happens When We Die?

Have you ever wondered what happens when we die? 

The End of my father’s life was a journey in pain management. I can still remember being woken up in the night. I received the phone call that I had dreaded since the day he was diagnosed with kidney failure years before: “Your father has died.” His presence in my life up to that point had been constant and stabilizing. A new and unwelcomed normal began to take over my heart. 

The days and years after my Dad’s death were not easy ones. The Bible called me to an eternal perspective saying, “blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4), and reminded me that it is better to spend time at a funeral than a party (Ecc 7:2).

But, what was it like for my Dad? 

What was it like for him when he died? 

The Bible has a lot to say about death. 

It offers hope.

When we die, we are not IN CRISIS – but IN CHRIST.

The truth is, any time that we deal with death, it’s difficult. Death never feels right, and I think God agrees that death should not happen. I don’t think it was ever His intention for us to be in a world where death exists. That is why He sent His Son to save us from death to life through faith. 

He sent His only son to solve the problem. 

He DID solve the problem!

Many of us are in a season of loss. Times where life takes more away than it gives. One of my favorite promises comes from the 23rd Psalm: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 reminds us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.”

Here is a concept I hadn’t considered before reading this Psalm from chapter 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Why would death be precious? Because He has something for us on the other side of this. In Philippians 1:21, Paul expresses, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

My friend, Dr. Charles Goodman, said it this way, “It’s a win-win situation.” Remember, when we die, we are not IN CRISIS – but IN CHRIST. There is an afterlife from a Christian perspective. Paul described it in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

When we die, we are not IN CRISIS – but IN CHRIST.

Paul said the last enemy to be destroyed was death and also asked, “Death, where is your victory, where is your sting?” The great mystery that Paul explains is that we are not just asleep, but we are transformed into the glorified version of ourselves.

  • But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
  • “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8)
  •  “He will wipe away every tear; death shall be no more; no more pain, no more suffering, no more crying.” (Revelation 21:4)
  • “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28 )

Did you know that two people every second are dying without faith in Christ around the globe? That is 154,937 people every day. That number is staggering to me. Death is going to grip all of us. It is the common ground on which all humanity stands. However, what happens when we die is determined by our relationship with God through faith in Christ. Who is close to you but far from God? 

“Let not your heart be troubled— BELIEVE IN ME.” ~Jesus~