PRIDE: Curing a Heart of Pride (part 2)

pridePride is at the root of nearly every problem we struggle with in counseling! In Part 1 you discovered the problem with pride. It this post, you’ll learn how to cure a heart filled with pride: namely, 1) admitting your struggle, 2) practicing humility, and 3) serving. Biblical counselor Julie Ganschow, the founder and director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center in Kansas City, MO, wrote this two-part series on pride. Read part one.

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Admit Your Struggle

First, begin by confessing, or admitting, to God that you struggle with the sin of pride. Confession is agreeing with God. You might pray a simple prayer similar to this one:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I confess to you that I struggle with the sin of pride in my heart and my life. This pride leads me to act out selfish desires and is hurtful to other people. I ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to change my heart so that I become selfless and learn to serve others as I consider them before myself. Thank You for the forgiveness that is mine through the Lord Jesus Christ, and I pray these things for Your glory. In Jesus name. Amen.

Practice Humility

The next step is to begin to practice humility, a denial of self. It is considering others better than yourself and requires an examination through the Word of God of the actions and attitudes of daily life.

Then He (Jesus) said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process?” Luke 9:23-25 (NLT)

Jesus displayed the ultimate in humility when He condescended to come to earth as a human being. He denied Himself and deprived Himself of heaven and all its glory for 33 years for you and me. Because our goal is to become like Jesus in character and attitude, we are to practice how Jesus lived His life. Jesus was described as “meek and lowly.”

Meekness is an internal quality that comes with humility. As a heart attitude, it is the opposite of pride. The one meek in heart is not concerned about self and readily puts the interest of others before his or her interests.

You should be known for the beauty that comes from (the hidden person of the heart), the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:4 (NLT) 

Humility Is NOT Weakness

Being meek does not mean weak; in fact, it means just the opposite. It takes great strength to be humble before God and others. This really goes against the grain of the sinful nature. It is possible, however, for even the most prideful person to become humble. Humility is a fruit of the Spirit, and God joyfully responds to those who desire it.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:3 (NIV)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16 (NIV)

Pride begins to change to humility when we understand how despicable we actually are without Christ. Humility comes when we internalize the truth that nothing in the life of a Christian is to be about “me.” It is all about Jesus Christ and Him only. You cannot possibly dwell on “what I want” or “what I think is better or right,” and be able to serve others or ask what would bring God glory. Heart change begins to take place when we practice the principles in the verse below:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) 

Serving Suggestions

Lastly, consider how you’ll serve others in the name of Christ. Here are some suggestions to begin to serve others:

  • Do one thing a day for someone you ordinarily would avoid.
  • Go out of your way to help another person.
  • Give up something you want to do for the sake of another’s pleasure.
  • Consider the opinion of a person you think is “beneath you” and follow his or her suggestion.

After practicing these suggestions, you will find joy returning to your life. Your world will open up to others as your heart opens up. As you continue to place others above yourself, your desire to serve them will grow, and life will become full of joy.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

PRIDE: Understanding Selfish Pride (part one)

pridePride is a heart-attitude sin that overflows into a person’s motivation, decision-making, and activities. Pride is at the root of nearly every problem we struggle with in counseling!

You are reading part one of a two-part series on the prideful heart by biblical counselor Julie Ganschow, listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory on my website and the founder and director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center in Kansas City, MO. Her article is reprinted with permission.

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The heart of pride is focused on “self.” Prideful people believe they deserve better than what life has brought them. They become sorrowful, resentful, and even jealous of other people and their successes. Pride breeds self pity, which is a major component in depression. Typically, people who struggle with pride will live life based on how they feel and expect everyone else to accommodate them and adapt to their moods.

Two key characteristics of pride are independence and rebellion. It should not be too difficult for us to understand why this is so. The truth is we all want our own way about things, and we usually will do almost anything to have it our way. The sinful nature leads us to desire independence, and we rebel at the thought of being under anyone’s control or authority.

In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalm 10:4 (NIV) 

In our hearts we say as Pharaoh did, “Who is the Lord  that I should obey Him?” Exodus 5:2

God Hates Pride

All who fear the LORD will hate evil. That is why I hate pride, arrogance, corruption, and perverted speechProverbs 8:13 (NLT)

The heart of pride brings devastating consequences that God ordains: a hardened heart and consequences of this sin.

Scripture shows us the results of pride through the examples of two kings: King Nebuchadnezzar and King Herod. They both became prideful and consequently were humbled by God.

But when [Nebuchadnezzar’s] heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes. Daniel 5:20-21 (NIV)

King Nebuchadnezzar lived like an animal until he came to his senses and repented of his sin. God then restored the kingdom to him.

On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. Acts 12:2-23 (NIV)

Pride Hardens the Heart

In your life, pride will cause your heart to harden toward God. Consequently, God will not allow you to prosper. He will bring you dishonor, which is the last thing a prideful person wants.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.Proverbs 11:2 (NIV)

Pride brings opposition from God. He will not share His glory with anyone or anything.

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV)

The prideful person is self-deceived.

For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:3 (NKJV)

Pride and ‘Low Self-Esteem’

Often prideful people are mistakenly diagnosed with “low self-esteem” because their actions and attitudes appear to be self-depreciating. Low self-esteem is defined as “a person’s belief regarding the degree to which he is worthy of praise.”

The prideful person already thinks very highly of himself or herself! People infected by pride typically think so much of themselves that they believe the world should revolve around them.

The only thing important to prideful people is getting their needs filled. It may be an emotional need, a desire for attention, or a resistance to conform to social norms in order to be seen as an individual. Prideful people struggle with bitterness, revenge, conceit, self pity, a competitive nature, gossip, slander, and vanity. They display a desire to be noticed, which is disguised as shyness. They typically have a lust for attention, approval, and praise. Those who attempt to build them up psychologically only assist them in further self-indulgence.

(Watch for part 2 in this series on pride. Be sure you get it when you subscribe to my blog. Thanks!–LAM) 

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

 

Worry? A Plan to Worry Less and Trust More

worryWorry is a continual tempation in life, isn’t it? And there are reasons to worry: ISIS, shootings, illness, mounting credit card debt, faltering relationships, rebellious kids, and on and on and on.

But God says,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV

Be anxious for nothing? Does this mean if you worry, you’ve committed. . .sin?! (Yes. And knowing you’ve fallen short of the mark might create even more worry, right? Ugh!)

In this short article you’ll discover. . .

  1. The good news: You’ve got company.
  2. The better news: God provides a plan to dump worry like garbage.

Worriers Jesus Loved

Martha Woes

Worry pestered Martha of Bethany. She whirled like a dervish in the kitchen while her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet, listening, learning, loving.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42)

Peter Missteps

When Peter took his eyes off Jesus and focused on raging waves, he began to sink.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:28-30)

Did you know a Christ follower who worries is saying to herself, “God, I know what you’re saying but I’m not sure I can trust you”? Worry is distrust of the goodness, love, and power of God. It’s makes sense, then, that he commands that you and I stop worrying.

Worry Chokes You

In Anxious for Nothing by John MacArthur, he identifies that the word worry comes for the Old English term wyrgan, which means “to choke” or “strangle.”

Just as Martha worried about meal preparation and Peter feared he’d drown, you and I sometimes let our worries choke us. Even panic attacks may jump on our frazzled nerves.

But worry accomplishes nother productive. It steals sleep. It causes stomach upset. And it even increases blood pressure and messes with your nervous system. Indeed, worry ruins quality of life!

And for nothing! Listen to Jesus’ words:

Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27

Worry-Free Plan

First, agree with God that he gives you strength for each day. God gives you what you need when you need it. He is faithful (I Corinthians 10:13).

Second, intentionally adjust your focus. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are of earth.” God promises to take care of your physical needs: food, clothing, and shelter. He wants to free you from misplaced priorites.

Jay Adams cautioned in What Do You Do When You Worry All the Time?

God wants you to seek to please Him first, and think about the problem of fear secondly. that is why when speaking of worry (a lesser form of fear) in Matthew 6:33 He commands ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’ If you put anything else first–even the desire to rid yourself of a terrifying fear– you will discover that you will fail to achieve ether goal. God will not take second place, even to a legitimate concern to be free of fear.

Third, thank God that he cares for you.

To implement these applications, begin a list of how he is providing, jotting down one or two things each day for a month. During the first week memorize Matthew 6:33 and ponder it. Later in the month, memorize and ponder other verses that dump worry. Some ideas are Philippians 4:19, Colossians 3:2, and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

I like to artistically write verses in an unlined notebook as I memorize them, adding graphic elements and simple pictures with colored pencils. You may like to do this too. Let me know how this worry-free plan works for you, or contact me and I’ll pray for you.

You can be anxious for nothing!

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Is Mother’s Day Hard for You? Me Too.

mothers day blogIs Mother’s Day hard for you? It is for me. And for three kids. (This blogpost is a favorite among my readers. I hope you appreciate it too.) 

It’s tough for me because my mom (top photo, above) was my best friend and she died in the middle of the night. Too soon. Only 62. Sudden heart attack. I cried on and off for two years. Have you grieved deeply too? Have you wet pillowcases with your tears and crumpled used tissues? 

It’s tough for my kids because they have never met their biological mothers: Belinda, Nari, and Oksana. Two of the three have made a sort of peace with this primary loss, this absence.

“Why did she give me up?” — their spoken words. Their deep, deep heart cry: “Wasn’t I good enough? Didn’t she love me?” I rattled the right adoptive mom lingo, “She made an adoption plan for you because she wasn’t married, didn’t have family support, or the money to raise you, and she made the best choice she could.”

These well-meaning words to my children fall flat. They don’t answer their deepest question. And they don’t answer mine.

Why, God?

Why, God, did you choose to take Mom to her true home the year I needed her most?

He showed me the answer in the Bible, an answer I didn’t like but over time accepted.

 The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21

Did your mom or mom-in-law pass away this year? Or did your child die? Are you trying to get pregnant and each passing month your sadness deepens? Perhaps you have another reason for tears on Mother’s Day.

You’d think a day of celebrating moms couldn’t hurt. For many, many of us it does. We have to find new ways to celebrate.

When my mom died 22 years ago, I selected a poem for her “In Memory of” card. I had little time to choose it, for no one expected her to pass on. . .yet. As tears wet my cheeks, I slow-motioned to my bookshelf to find Seasons of Your Heart by Macrina Wiederkehr. Years before, Wiederkehr’s way with verse had awakened my senses to seeing God in the ordinary: shopping malls and maple trees, teacups and Christmas lights, breadcrumbs and bare feet.

I needed her words now. I needed God now.

Life had become ugly. I ached for beauty and brightness.

Finding an Answer

As I read and reread the poetry, trying to find just the right verse, my broken heart started healing. Hope was returning. Oh. . .so. . .slowly.

Then I turned a page and found the one. Excited and happy yet fragile and sad, I carefully copied a part of the verse, perfect in its expression of my mom.

I looked for myself
in so many places
and then, in my weariness
I forgot about myself
and looked for You.
And behold,
I found myself there
waiting for me
in you.
I am beautiful at last.

We women won’t find true beauty at work or in the cocktail lounge. It’s not at the salon or the PTO. You won’t even find it in the mirror.

True beauty, the kind that matters, is in Christ alone. He defines you. He says you are valuable and strong and beautiful, my sister in Christ.

A New Celebration

Ever since my mom died, I began a new celebration that soothes my soul. On Mother’s Day I plant bright and hard-to-kill flowers — no green thumb here! — tucking them by this maple and that birch, and in pots all around. It’s my living Mother’s Day card.

As their roots grow deep and their petals unfurl, I remember. I remember the flavor of my mom’s spaghetti, the way she walked tall, the scratch of a match to light her cigarette. I also remember God’s faithfulness to me on the blackest of days.

My prayer is my children discover their own celebrations for their birth moms. One has spoken of a tattoo:

“Love is patient, love is kind. . .It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.” 1 Corinthinans 13

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

 

If You Feel Abused, Were You Abused? (Part 2)

abusedAbused? Were you abused, phyically or sexually, in your marriage? In part 2 of this multi-part series on domestic violence, guest writer Jim Newheiser carefully looks at common assertions and takes a balanced view. This post appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is reprinted with permission.

Read Part 1 here: When to believe the victim, when to believe the abuser

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I am thankful to God that many necessary and important books and articles are being written to increase awareness of physical and sexual abuse. Abuse affect both the society at large and the Christian community in particular. Spiritual leaders have been rightly admonished for their failure to protect at-risk women and children.

Battered wives have been wrongly told that if they were just more loving and submissive, their husbands would change and the abuse would stop. They are then wrongly sent back to take further verbal and physical beatings. Many church leaders need to repent of their failure to “rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).

While I affirm the importance of understanding the dark nature of abuse and protecting the victims of abuse, I am concerned that some, in their zeal to correct the failure of the past, have swung too far the other way. This can lead to false accusations and unnecessary family breakups.

I would like to give a few examples of what I believe to be common overstatements, and for each one, I will describe the good intention behind the statements, the harm which can be caused because of imbalanced thinking, and a more balanced way of expressing the same concerns.

If You Feel Abused, Then You Were Abused?

ASSERTION: If you feel abused, then you were abused.

  1. The valid concern: This statement is often made to express the reality that abuse may have taken place even if the abuser does not recognize or acknowledge his behavior (yelling, pushing, bullying, coercion, threats, and intimidation) as wrong.
  2. The harm that can be caused: On the other hand, the Bible teaches that it is possible to wrongly interpret the words, actions, and motives of others (1 Corinthians 2:11).

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11

For example, Eli falsely accused Hannah of drunkenness because her lips were moving as she prayed (1 Samuel 2:12ff). We cannot judge one person merely by the subjective feelings of another. For example, a man may be in a rush and accidentally bump into his wife (with whom he had had a recent conflict) as he turns a corner. She may accuse him of doing it deliberately to harm her when that was never his motive.

Words also can be misunderstood. What is taken by one person as angry and abusive might have never been intended as such. Nor might it have been interpreted this way by an objective third party.

Scripture reminds us: “Love hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7); in other words, love seeks to assume the best.

3. It would be better to say: A person who feels abused should be helped to objectively evaluate what has happened and to get assistance if genuine abuse has taken place. Part of this objective evaluation involves considering the ongoing pattern and cumulative effect of the accused person’s behavior, as well as the immediate accusation at hand. Proper evaluation over time keeps us from wrongly escalating the consequences for one individual incident while also not dismissing the whole situation because one incident wasn’t deemed as abusive.

Sometimes a Victim Has a Sin Issue Too

ASSERTION: It is never the victim’s fault.

  1. The valid concern: Many abusers claim that their victims are to blame because the victim provoked him or failed to be as good a wife or child as they should be. Many victims suffer from false guilt. There is no valid excuse for physical or sexual abuse.

Even if the abuser believes that he was provoked, he is never authorized by God to take physical or verbal vengeance.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

2. The harm that can be caused: Some victims have sin issues which also need to be addressed. I counseled in a case in which a wife would berate and insult her husband, saying “Come on Jesus man, hit me!” She admitted that she felt that she had won the argument when he finally struck her. Again, I emphasize there was no excuse for him hitting her. But she also needed to address her personal sinfulness.

There have been cases of sexual assault in which the woman got herself into an extremely compromising and dangerous situation (i.e., drunk, alone, and making out with a man with whom she is not married). Again, the man should have stopped when she said, “no” (also see Habakkuk 2:15). If he assaults her, he is guilty of a crime and should be punished. But she also needs to acknowledge before God her personal sin in the situation. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 addresses situations like this.

3. It would be better to say: Abuse is never justified, but victims may need to examine themselves to see if they have any sin for which they also need to seek God’s forgiveness.

(Friend, if someone has abused you, please seek help from a caring pastor, a spiritually wise woman at your church, or from a biblical counselor, who counsels the compassionate, effective Word to your hurting heart. Learn more about biblical counseling by Skype.–LAM)

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

 

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5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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