When You Feel You’re Not Good Enough

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

“I’m not ___________ enough.” You can fill in that blank with smart, talented, gifted, spiritual, outgoing, attractive, or any number of positive attributes. But the root source of each one of those blanks is rooted in “I’m not good enough.” Period. It’s one of the Enemy’s favorite deceptions to hold God’s children hostage to a life that is “less than.

“I’m not good enough” is an insidious lie that keeps God’s best at bay for many of His children.

The Enemy tries to get us to focus on our flaws rather than on our faith. When we focus on our faults, we take our focus off God, who equips us; the Holy Spirit, who empowers us; and Jesus, who envelops us.

The Bible does say no one is good enough to earn his or her way into heaven (Romans 3:23). Salvation is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). However, many have taken the truth that they are not good enough to earn their way to heaven and transferred it to “I’m not good enough—period.” But through the finished work of Jesus Christ, and His power working in you and through you, you are good enough to do everything God has called you to do and be.

Giving in to the lie of “I’m not good enough” will paralyze you. It’s the coward’s way out. I might have just hurt your feelings, but listen, I’m talking to myself, too.

I was asked to speak to a group of teenage girls not too long ago. I thought, I don’t do teenage girls. They scare me. I’m not cool enough. They won’t listen to me. I’m going to sound stupid!

Yes, after all these years of writing and speaking, I still struggle with feeling not good enough. I haven’t conquered it yet. God still stretches me and challenges me to see if I truly believe He is enough to work through me.

By the way, I did put on my cool jeans and my gladiator sandals and spoke to the girls. How did it go? I’m not sure. But here’s what I do know. I am not responsible for the outcome of my obedience. God is.

Stepping out when “not good enough” is heckling at you to step aside is scary. Shrinking back and not moving forward is safer. But it is also boring—not the life-to-the-full Jesus came to give.

Henry Blackaby challenges us, “When God invites you to join Him in His work, He has assigned a God-sized assignment for you. You will realize that you cannot do it on your own. If God doesn’t help you, you will fail. This is the crisis point where many decide not to follow what they sense God is leading them to do. Then they wonder why they do not experience God’s presence and activity the way other Christians do.”

I don’t want to be that person. I don’t think you do either.

Courage and confidence follow obedience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood backstage at a conference with the words “I’m not good enough” screaming in my head. But when I step out in obedience, and do what God has called me to do, the power of the Holy Spirit overpowers the lies of the Enemy who told me to just go home. And God does amazing things.

God has given you everything you need in order to do what He has called you to do. You are enough.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Dream Homes and Fixer Uppers

Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message:

There we were – my realtor husband and I – standing in front of our new home grinning and holding a bright red SOLD sign for the picture.  The excitement of moving into a great house had temporarily eclipsed the stress of packing three weeks before Christmas.  I couldn’t see one thing wrong with my dream house.  And then we moved in.

The sink in the master bathroom started to leak.  The plumber was supposed to come in the afternoon but couldn’t come until after dinnertime.  While the plumber tooled around under the sink, James and I were standing on top of our bed trying to fix the ceiling fan and light.  My arms ached as I held up the light while James worked with the wiring.  Let’s just say it didn’t work the first time (or the second, or the third).  I had a choice.  Would I complain about my aching arms and quarrel with my husband in the heat of the moment?

Marriage is a lot like having a massive home improvement project for life.  There’s always something new to work on.  Now in the beginning, you marry Prince Charming and there’s not a blemish on him.  He looks perfect.  And there’s not a blemish on you either.  But as you begin to do life together day after day, you soon realize you need to put some elbow grease into the relationship to keep the magic alive.  Healthy relationships take work.

You don’t have to be married to mine the wisdom of today’s verse.  In Solomon’s day, roofs were flat and small rooms could be built there.  Today’s verse is repeated verbatim in Proverbs 25:24, “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”  In other words, it’s better to live sparsely in peace than live in comfort with quarreling.  It would be better to live in a dusty, little room than in the prettiest most Pinterest perfect home if it meant a complaining, argumentative woman would be living there too.

Quarrelcan be defined as “an angry argument or disagreement, typically between people who are usually on good terms.”  Whether married or single, I don’t think any of us want to be known as a quarrelsome woman.

So the next time you feel like fighting with your spouse or someone else, extend grace.  Instead of being contentious and argumentative, be gracious. The more gracious you are to others; the more others will be attracted to you.  Your loved ones won’t try to escape to the roof.  They’ll be happy wherever you are.  That sounds a lot like a dream home to me.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When the Big Bad Bully Messes With You

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Being from North Carolina, I love the old black-and-white episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. (And no, we don’t all talk like that.) In one episode, the neighborhood bully is picking on Andy’s boy, Opie. This blond-headed newcomer taunts and makes fun of Opie until he feels like a total loser. He’s ashamed of his own cowardice and embarrassed in front of his friends. After Andy, the wise father, figures out what is disturbing his moping son, he gives him a little lesson in standing up to bullies. The next day, when the bully threatens Opie, the little freckle-faced boy looks his opponent in the eye and refuses to crumble under his threats.

“Do you want to fight?” the bully taunts.

Opie doesn’t say a word. He just puts up his fists.

“Oh yeah? Well, knock this rock off my shoulder and I’ll—”

Opie knocks the rock off his shoulder before the bully has time to finish his sentence.

“Oh yeah? Well, step into this circle,” the bully continues as he draws a circle around himself in the dirt.

Opie steps into the circle.

Suddenly, the bully grows nervous. “You better be glad I’ve got on my good pants,” the bully says as he backs away.

Opie never had to throw the first punch. All he did was stand his ground and the bully backed away. Bullies don’t like it when we stand our ground. Never have. Never will.

Notice how many times Paul admonishes us tostand in Ephesians 6:13-14. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able tostand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…” No one can stand for us. We must stand on our own two feet and stand up against the Enemy—and we stand onthe Word of Truth to do it.

In his book The Reason for God, Timothy Keller said this:

“If anything threatens your identity, you will not just be anxious but paralyzed with fear. If you lose your identity through the failings of someone else, you will not just be resentful but locked into bitterness. If you lose it through your own failings, you will hate or despise yourself as a failure as long as you live. Only if your identity is built on God and his love…can you have a self that can endure anything, face anything.”

We need to take our stand when the big bad bully tells us that we are no good losers who can’t do anything right, who will never change, who will always struggle with doubt, or who will never be free. He’s just messing with you. Don’t let him.

Paul said, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Maybe you’ve been running from the bully for way too long. Go ahead and take your stand. He’ll probably slink away because he has his good pants on.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Is Your Past Tripping You Up?

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message….

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. (Philippians 3:13b, NIV)

It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.

Amen! I thought.

The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.

The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Chris followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.

Instead of wallowing in the muck of condemnation, he stepped into the grace of Christ with determination. With a fresh mission. He wrote a heart-felt message similar to the wall art in his New Testament letter to the believers in the church of Philippi. That familiar, challenging passage…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14, NIV)

Many of us know this section of scripture, but it’s important for us to realize that the conversation doesn’t end there. What Paul says next is a game-changing statement:

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:15-16, ESV)

I want to be mature. I want to think this way. Don’t you?

I want to hold true to what I’ve attained in Christ.

It’s the way of life!

I read this and I begin to realize that what Paul is really saying is something to this effect: Let it go, people! Move on. Greater things await you. Don’t look back. It’s no good for you. You won’t gain any traction on the plans that God has for you. If you choose to look back then you need to grow up because that is not where your promise lies. If you are mature in your faith you will believe the gospel. When you are forgiven … You. Are. Forgiven. Believe it. What Jesus did for you and me covers anything that we lay at His feet. Fully.

I’m reminded that it’s time to move forward. That it’s time to fix my eyes on what is ahead, not on what is behind. That God’s mercies are new every day.

Clearly this press-on message is not about sweeping un-confessed sins under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. When we stumble – when we sin – we can’t just forget it and move on. We are to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him for forgiveness.

Grace meets us in the asking and settles it with God. Because of this we can move forward in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.

And it’s not about locking deep heart wounds in a secret compartment of your heart. The Bible invites us to take our aching, angry, abused, or offended hearts to Jesus so that He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.

The reward of faith is freedom in Christ. The past has no hold on us.

Grace fixes the gaze of the believer forward.

So the next time I’m tempted to look back at a failure or an old heart wound, I will remember the wall art wisdom from Marshalls and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash that painful conversation, not to blame that person … not to stumble on things that are behind me.

Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for Jesus and call to Him for help.

And in the reaching I begin to take my place among the mature-in-faith.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

That Little Sneaky Path to a Bad Place

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message…

One Sunday my pastor had to do some housekeepin’ fussin’ at our congregation before he started his sermon. It was a “visitors, close your ears” moment as Jimmy interrupted the service for an important message from our neighbors.

See, right beside our church property is a city park. On Sundays, when our parking lot is full, we tend to use the city park lot for our overflow parking. The only problem is that the folks going to the city park don’t like the fact that those daggum CHURCH people are taking their parking spaces.

It is not nice of us. Really. I’m sorry. I’ve done it, too.

And while our sweet pastor calmly asked the congregation, once again, to STOP PARKING IN THE CITY PARK PARKING LOT (he didn’t yell, but I bet he wanted to) folks still do it. As soon as Jimmy finished his announcement and began his sermon, God had a sermon just for me. He wasn’t finished with me and the forbidden parking lot issue. That’s what happens when you make a path or keep a path open, He seemed to say, “You’re going to walk down it eventually.”

See, while we have been warned, scolded, and pleaded with not to park next door, there is this nice little path through the bushes from the city park’s parking lot to our church’s parking lot. The bushes are trimmed on both sides, cobblestones are succinctly placed, and a nice little bit of concrete forms a gently curving sidewalk. Someone keeps the bushes clipped and the grass maintained. The breezeway almost beckons us (me) to break the rules.

Now let’s go down a different path. Let’s call the path sin. Let’s say that you have decided that once and for all you are not going to park yourself in the parking lot of a particular sin.

  • You’re not going to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts and eat a dozen chocolate-covereds in one sitting. You’re not even driving by.
  • You are not going to sleep with that boyfriend…ever again!
  • You’re not going to date that guy you know is bad for you…ever again.
  • You’re not going to look at that particular website.
  • You’re not going to flirt with the married guy in the next cubicle.
  • You’re not going to gossip about other people.
  • You are not going to drink because you know you have an alcohol problem.
  • You are not going to indulge in online shopping because you’re in debt.
  • You’re not going to _______________.

There are hundreds of vices you could put in that sentence. But then there’s a nicely groomed little path that you’ve kept open…just in case. You wouldn’t call it “just in case.” You wouldn’t say it out loud.

  • The guy’s name is still in your contacts list on your smartphone.
  • You still think about what that guy in the next cubicle would like when you get dressed for work in the morning.
  • You still pull up that website when you think God isn’t looking.
  • You still pull up a chair when someone begins to gossip.
  • You still take the route home from work that goes right by the Dunkin Donut store.
  • You keep a bottle in the cabinet…just for company.

The paths beckon you. And as long as you keep the breezeways open, you’ll probably breeze right through them…eventually.

The answer? Remove the path. Put up a gateless fence.

  • Remove the contact.
  • Change your job.
  • Get rid of your computer.
  • Get an accountability partner.
  • Take a different route home from work.
  • Remove the bottle.
  • Unsubscribe.

Make the path impassable, implausible, and impossible to take, and put up a gateless fence instead.

Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” (Matthew 5:29 NKJV). That is pretty dramatic. I’m not telling you to pluck out your eye, and I’m not sure that’s what Jesus was saying either. But He was telling us to remove the cause of the temptation.

Remove the path. Put up a fence.

So here’s my question: Do you need to put up a fence where you now have a path?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!