Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dreaming of The Super Bowl

World English Dictionary
Self-Justification - n - the act or instance of justifying or providing excuses for one's behavior


I've been resting better lately and dreaming a lot.  I know that God has dealt with my sin, but my dream last night revealed to me that God isn't through with my flesh yet.

The dream seemed to begin in an open field but as it materialized it appeared to be more like an abandoned junkyard with a dusty, dirt-covered open space in the middle.   I had a football in my hand when a conversation with five young men began.  

They told me to hike the ball shouting, "let's play".  I was confused and had only one question for them.  

"In all my days I have never seen a Super Bowl played in a junk yard.  I'm the quarterback and this is The Super Bowl right?"  

The other boys seemed puzzled.  "I'll play," I said, "but this seems very strange.  Where are the cameras?"

I instantly woke up.   A half smile on my face and rolled over in bed.   Every dream's hero is the dreamer, but it's clear that though I'm not an athlete (and can hardly throw a football spiral),  I'm hardwired to seek the center of attention.  To be justified through applause, adulation or merely capturing someone's attention.

I've got confidence, God is gonna see me through.
No matter what the case may be I know He's gonna fix it for me
- Andrae Crouch & The Disciples, I've Got Confidence
Confidence is a good thing when placed in Him who gives us every good gift and drives the circumstances in our life to bring about His desired ends.    Yet I grew up using confidence in self as a defense mechanism to mask deep insecurities and confusion about my true purpose in life.    This was pride masking fear.....
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. - Prov. 16:18

My "self-confidence" kept me from hearing the rebuke of others, hearing the voice of reason and ultimately, hearing the voice of God.  This led to foolish living.   But unbeknownst to me God was always in control....
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. - Phil. 1:6

I'm now certain of this: confidence in self leads to the futility of self-justification.  How does the man who is full of self-confidence deal with failure?  He must ignore it, make excuses or blame others;  it's just too painfully embarassing to turn back.  So the self-justification intensifies.

When the curtain is pulled back on our inevitable failures or natural weaknesses we are exposed.   How often do people take deeper cover under the false shade of pride hiding from what is the truth about themselves?   We can never justify ourselves with our hard work, success or relational domination of others.  But consider some of the ways people try and, in so doing, create a living hell for themselves and those around them.  (examples not necessary - watch the evening news or take a look at your family!)

Paul explained to the Philippians that of all Jews he had the most to be self-confident about.....

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. - Phil. 3:5-6

Paul was all in.  A chief persecutor of the early church he actually gave consent to the stoning of Steven (Acts 7:58).  He'd gone so far in his effort to justify himself through keeping the law that to turn back would have been naturally impossible if not for the grace of Christ Jesus made plain to Paul.   
God's grace in Jesus revealed that all Paul's efforts were, by comparison, garbage.   Now he could rest in Christ (read: relationship) and stop the "work for God" (read: religion) that was ironically keeping his heart so hard.  Finding both forgiveness and mercy Paul's identity was completely changed....
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.  - Phil. 3:7-9 

Turning from (repenting of) my propensity to justify myself through my work (ministry, song-writing, performing etc.) is a daily discipline.  Old habits die hard.  But die they must and in turning from them I continually find Him who waits patiently for me and continues to shower me with the grace that makes it easier and easier to turn to Him again and again.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 
- Gal. 2:20

This Week and Next:

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM - Kings Cross Chapter 4
    2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

* The Magills - Friday May 13th - The Moore's Store, Ben Wheeler, TX - 7pm-10pm

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 12pm Monday @ Dakota's - Kings Cross Chapter 5
    5377 S. Broadway (back room on the left)


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