A Bad Case of “Individualitis”

Below you will find a 40 minute message given by Andrew Wilson. I’ve never heard of him, but he just punched me right in the gut. A nasty habit of thought, that is seemingly rooted very deeply in my heart, has come crashing to the surface. It’s called “individualitis,” and here’s how it looks in my life:

I am scared to death I will amount to nothing in this world and my name will be forgotten. I’ll even Christianize it for you…I am scared I will not make huge strides for God’s Kingdom.  I am drowning in my own head because of this anti-community, self-absorbed way of thinking. I’m suffocating under this pressure to change my surrounding world. Change it!

Simply put, ordinary is failure. I can’t be ordinary–what can God do with that?

Arrogance, pride, unbiblical understanding of God, his church, my identity, my role…these are just a few problems that result from individualitis.  I will contemplate these things for many months ahead. But now I strongly encourage you to take 40 minutes and listen to this message. It’s the best I’ve ever heard…but maybe because I needed to hear it so badly.

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Hair and Eyelashes

I have a confession. I am terribly concerned about the way I look, and this is not pleasing to God.

Last week, Robert came with me to get my hair cut (dumb). Actually, it was a good thing because he helped me realize how important my looks are to me. Every time I cut my hair the result is more mirror time. Serious mirror time. If it is a good haircut I am in a super happy mood; if it doesn’t turn out so well (like the time my head looked like a mushroom) unhappiness, misery and stomach pains ensue. I am vain. Period.

I know for a fact I am not alone in this struggle. I can attempt to make the conviction not as painful by shifting some blame on our culture and blah blah blah. The truth is, God is not pleased with a self-absorbed Christian. Is God brought more glory when I meditate on his word, or when I dwell on the style of my hair or the length of my eyelashes? He is pleased when my heart yearns for purity and righteousness (Matt. 5:6,8). When I am broken by how ugly my hearts is apart from him, he is compassionate and merciful (Psalm 51:17). This is hard to admit, but far too many days am I concerned by my outer appearance and the condition of my heart doesn’t even cross my mind. This is a shame and not godly.

Other than getting ready in the morning for my day and making sure I look presentable, as a redeemed child of Holy God, devoting much more time than this in front of a mirror is putting zero use to what Jesus has done for me. (This does not include taking care of my body. Clearly, I’m not being so extreme as to say time at the gym is a waste.) My time and focus are all that I have to offer him. So, it may not seem like a big thing to some–it’s just a little vanity after all. In my experience though, the more time I spend focusing on myself (no matter the reason) the less likely I am to focus on my husband, my friends, my church. Little steps take me from a servant attitude towards a serve-me one. How subtly I am wasting the work of the cross.

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
(Psalm 119:37 ESV)

Missing the Heart of God

You know what’s really neat? When you hear the same lesson in multiple places. This is how God works sometimes. He uses a mentor, a sermon, a daily devotion to speak the same message. I’m so glad he does this for me, because clearly I am hard of hearing.

A few Sundays ago, the celebration of Advent started and my church began a series called, “Return to Wonder.” You can listen to the whole series here. Here’s a brief overview: all children have a sense of wonder and amazement over everything. Babies go nuts when mom makes a silly face. Children can’t believe a plane just flew over their heads. First dates, first kisses. All these things bring wonder, excitement and thrill.

The same thing happens in our relationship with God. We are amazed at the new knowledge that the Creator of the universe knows about ME. He doesn’t just know, He loves us more than we could ever comprehend. This incredible news changes our lives. And with that change, we burn with passion to know God more. But what happens? We lose the wonder of who He is and what our salvation means. Pastor Chris has spurred us on to “reverse the slow fade.”

We are some forgetful people, you know? That’s why I had to hear the same thing in five different conversations.

I’m missing the heart of God.

Twice, Revelation 2 was brought to my attention in one week. Apparently, the Church in Ephesus had the same problem that I am having. Revelation 2:1-5 reveals a church that had lost their wonder in God.

I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.

I get these people. They worked endlessly for good, for the spreading of the truth. They racked their brains day and night to stop heresy from spreading.  After all this work, they forgot the heart of God.  I guess they were so zealous in ambition they stopped focusing on their personal relationship with Him. Perhaps, they just outright stopped caring about it.  Either way, they had forgotten, and God took this very seriously. If they did not return to loving God there were serious consequences ahead.

How do I miss the heart of God? I do not make his heart my priority. There is nothing wrong with spending time on hobbies, with friends, or volunteering at church (obviously). But, if I do all these things for several weeks and do not praise God for how wonderful he is or confess my sin to him, that’s a huge problem. I don’t know about your sin, but mine tends to leak over into most of my life if I don’t guard against it. Prayer helps me guard. His Word helps me guard. These two things keep me sensitive to God’s leading. I miss his heart because I am not listening to him.  And then I become a wonderless child of God.

A Healthy Weight

I have two questions: 1) Do I understand how much I have been given? 2) Do I understand the responsibility I have because of it?

NO and NO.

I do not fully understand. But there is progress being made and this is how I know—I feel a great weight. This isn’t a bad kind of weight; this is a weight of acknowledgement.  I have acknowledged that so many people in this world have no access to books, education, or the freedom to pursue it. I have all three in plenty. Weight.

Is this attitude self-promoting? It’s possible my sinful heart could take me there, so I pray and ask God to protect me from this attitude by cleansing my heart of sinful tendency. But right now, there is no confidence to boost promotion or pride to think I could do anything of eternal worth without precious Jesus. I need you sweet Savior to help me put to good use the blessings you have given me. Otherwise, I am no good to your kingdom work.

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” Luke 12:48.