6 Ways to See In Yourself What You Cannot See

Seeing Ourselves As We Really Are

About 20 years ago, while browsing a Greek grammar book (of all things!?!), I ran across this sentence. I’ve never forgotten it. “We cannot see our own faults, not because they are small but because they are characteristic.”

Let me explain. The inner problems you need to defeat blind you so you can’t see the inner problems that defeat you. Does that clear it up? Probably not.

Let me try again. You can’t see yourself as you really are. Everyone else can see that you’re a biatch (pardon my French) but you’re blind to it. You alienate people but think it’s their problem. You think you’re OK because you can’t see what’s wrong with you. And, you can’t see what’s wrong with you because it’s so much a part of who you are.

To Rationalize or Not? 

You might rationalize and say,”That’s just how I am. People will just have to accept me as I am.” Or, “I’m Irish/Black/a New Yorker/poor/hurt/married/handicapped or a Harvey (insert your family name) and that’s just who we are. Like it or leave it!”

Are you sick of rationalizing and tired of “being who I am?” Are you ready to do something about it? Here are some ways to discover what you can’t see:

  1. Find a spiritual friend who loves you, knows your heart and will be honest with you. This is a tall order. These kinds of friends are few and far between. Begin by praying for one.
  2. Develop a relationship with a spiritual father or mother whom you respect and to whom you will honestly listen. Discover with them who you are inside.
  3. If your marriage is strong, talk with your spouse about these blind spots. Be prepared to accept what you hear.
  4. Talk with a spiritual director. This person will help you explore what God is bringing to light in your life.
  5. Find a trustworthy psychologist to help you discover issues in you which you can’t see yourself.
  6. Sit with the Triune God in solitude and submit to open heart surgery. Humbly pray for God to give light to your darkened heart. Listen intently when He messes with your perceptions about yourself. Open the scriptures, not to study them, but for them to study you. Allow them, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to point out areas of your life you can’t see.

Of course, with all the above, you must do something about the information you receive. Hearing is only the first step. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in what to do. Contact me and I’ll try to help.

Are you ready to see what you can’t see now? Share below your thoughts and/or struggles with this idea.

Dr. K

How You Can Gain a Better Grasp of Reality

Who You Are Inside Matters

Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?

I’ve been to London to visit the Queen.

Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there?

I frightened a little mouse, under her chair.

The kitty cat is standing before the queen. Here she can experience the glistening throne, distinguished royalty, splendorous surroundings, and awe-striking beauty. But what catches the pussy cat’s attention is a little mouse under the queen’s throne which he frightens. That’s what cats do. That’s who they are. They see the world as a place to catch little creatures. That’s not the real world. Yet, it’s the world they know because of who they are.

Why Are There Different Viewpoints? 

Have you ever wrestled with the thought, “Why don’t others see things the way I do?” This can be asked in the context of your marriage, your job, or your relationships. Why do we disagree? Why can’t they see things from my perspective? And why can’t I see things from their viewpoint?

A partial answer to these questions is this:

You don’t see the world as it is; you see it as you are.

Could this explain what Jesus was getting at when he taught: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6.45)? Let me paraphrase: “Out of the abundance of who you are inside you see, hear, perceive, and speak.”

In other words, you see the world out of who you are. And that opens the great probability that you don’t see reality as it is.

This helps you understand how people can observe the same facts and arrive at very different conclusions. Apply this to God. You can’t see the Infinite because you are finite. Or, the Bible – you can’t see its truth because you are blinded by theological suppositions. Or church history – you can’t see its relevance because you don’t “like” history. You can’t see things as they really are due to who you are.

This is a frightening thought to those who believe they know the “real world” or “how things really are.” Much of what people believe to be true is not true at all.

A Great Opportunity 

But this reality also opens up your mind to a new way of seeing. If you don’t see things as they are but as you are, then…

What you are becoming is the most important aspect of your life.

Because, to live more in reality, you must live each day in order to be changed from the inside out. You begin to acknowledge that your current perspective of reality is never completely true. So, you give yourself permission to learn and grow while not having to arrive at certainty.

Gain a better grasp of reality by becoming a different person on the inside. 

Pray this to be true for me as well.

Share your thoughts below. And…share this post with others.

Dr. K

What Your Black and White World Needs is the Light of Profound Truth

Does the Bible Present Correct Ideas or Profound Truth?

A few weeks ago, I sat in the room listening to a 94-year-old man argue with an 83-year-old man about faith and baptism. Mr. 94 was a faith alone guy. Mr. 83 believed that baptism was part of the salvation process. Mr. 94 jabbed with “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16.31). Mr. 83 counter-punched with, “I’ve got one verse for you. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16.16). Mr. 94 gave an upper cut, “For by grace are you saved through faith” (Eph. 2.8). Mr. 83 deflected the blow with, “What about the Ethiopian eunuch?” I wanted to ring the bell and tell them to go back to their corners and give it a rest. Fortunately, there were no hard feelings, just “correct” ideas that were more entrenched than ever.

When I talk with people about their frustrations with Christianity and the church as they know it, they often bring up the problem of confusing messages. One group teaches that God predestines people to heaven or hell. Another group teaches that God loves people so much that he couldn’t damn people to hell. Is it more biblical to believe that speaking in tongues happens today or more biblical to believe that speaking in tongues stopped when the Bible was completed? Should I have my infant baptized, or wait until she decides for herself or wait until she is confirmed?

And the really confusing part is that all these groups claim to be basing their beliefs on the same Bible. Huh? How can that be?

So what are you supposed to do?

  • You can agree to disagree. This is a cop-out. You’re correct, but I’m more correct.
  • You can be dogmatic about your own theology and interpretation of the Bible and view everyone else as wrong and in need of your instruction. This is the stuff of judgmentalism, pride, and ignorance. “Speaking the truth in love” finds little room to grow here.
  • You can be fully convinced of a way of understanding theology and the Bible while at the same time, view others as on a journey to truth. This is getting closer to a good solution.
  • You can forget about making the call about others and devote your life to seeking out a good theology and understanding of scripture. This is getting at the core of the journey. You and I think we know what truth is. The reality is that we’re far from it. We need to focus on finding it and living it for ourselves while encouraging others to do the same. We’re pilgrims on a journey not mountain climbers who have reached the peak.

Jesus spoke like this: “Lose your life and you will find it.” “The first will be last and the last will be first.” Jesus Christ, fully God yet fully man, was comfortable with paradox – “a statement that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.”

Can we approach our quest for good theology and Bible understanding with love and grace? Be careful with your personal dogma. Take to heart what Neils Bohr, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist says:

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth.

The Bible is profound truth. Let’s not treat it as if it merely contains correct ideas. Correctness is of our own making. Truth comes from God.

Share your thoughts below. 

Dr. K 

Challenging You to Become More Than Your Church Thinks You Can Become

Church Systems Stifle Your Life in Christ

Today I write a “challenge the status quo” post. These never sit well with some folks. Others love the challenge. I can’t please everyone. I don’t try to. My hope in writing this kind of post is to disorient you a bit. That’s a good thing. Jesus did it. I’m not Jesus. But I like his methods (usually!?!).

The church many of us grew up in, and many are still experiencing, is based on a simple formula:

  • Do what you’re told.
  • Show up.
  • Fit in.
  • Work hard.
  • Know the facts.
  • Listen to the boss.
  • Stick it out.
  • Be part of the system.
  • You’ll be rewarded.

Are you part of a church where you are trained to conform to written (and unwritten) rules while you play the game of community? Frequently, the rules change from one church to another so you’re never certain who’s got it right. Perhaps you’ve been in a church where the boss changes the rules in the middle of the game. Disastrous!

Unfortunately, I know from personal experience how this works – or doesn’t work.

Recently, I read these words from the book “Linchpin” (p. 3) by Seth Godin. I could not help but think of the evangelical church as I know it and as many of you know it.

The system we grew up with is a mess. It’s falling apart at the seams and a lot of people I care about are in pain because the things we thought would work don’t. Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. They have become victims, pawns in a senseless system that uses them up and undervalues them.

It’s time to stop complying with the system…

Stop settling for what’s good enough and start creating art that matters.

You have the potential to be a saint. Don’t settle for being a hireling. You’ve been created to thrive in beauteous mystery. Don’t settle for mere existence in sterile certainty. You claim that the truth sets you free yet you live in subjection to theological systems that stifle you.

The solution to freedom from this kind of church is not found in rejecting God and/or acting any way you want. It is found in a journey of learning to love God with your whole heart, mind, soul, body, and relationships. Your companion on that journey must be Jesus Christ who is himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

You may think you’re on that kind of journey. But there’s a good chance you’ve been highjacked by certain people and systems that keep you down. There are many. You’ve given them permission to control you. But, you can choose the path to freedom in Jesus Christ.

Walk in him and see where he takes you.

So, what do you think? Are you part of a system that frustrates your spiritual growth? If you benefitted from this challenge, share it with others. Comment below if you’d like to. 

Dr. K

How Can Stillness Move You Closer to God? – Final Reflection

The Dynamic Value of Being Still With God: A Brief Look at Movement in Stillness

I am slowly learning about the world of stillness. What looks still really isn’t. Consider a piece of wood – no noise or outward movement. It just sits there. Yet, it teems with molecules that are moving. Not remembering much from Mr. Warren’s science class, I had to do a little research on the molecule. “A molecule consists of two or more atoms with all kinds of internal, dynamical “vibrations,” thermally induced or otherwise inherently present. This arrangement causes a constant, quasi-cyclic natural shifting of molecular position with respect to the immediate “environment.” Though most readily seen in gases, this occurs in solids as well.”

Movement in stillness. Become still so you can move to God.

Stillness does not mean everything stops moving. In stillness, everything is in motion. In stillness, God is moving in your heart. In stillness your thoughts are not in control so you hear the whispers of your heart where God resides.

Stillness quiets your mind and body so you can attend to the movement of your heart & soul. In this condition, you begin to notice God’s working of grace and love within you. You begin to pay attention to the state of your relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit. You begin to experience real communion with God. As the Choirmaster writes: in being still you experience who God really is (Psalm 46.10).

We have a little pond out by our gazebo. There are eight koi and goldfish who call this home. When the surface of the pond is agitated or the water is murky, you cannot see the fish. But when the surface is smooth and the water clear, a tiny world of lively movement is seen.

Stillness allows you to see the lively world of God and His life moving within and around you.

So, be still.

Share below your experience of stillness. 

Dr. K 

How To Be Still & Know God

Two Primary & Simple Ways to Be Still

You awaken from sleep with your mind instantly activated. What needs to be done at work today? What is happening with the children? My “to-do” list is long.  Phone calls. Projects. Meetings. Emails. People. Meals. Exercise. Yard work. Errands. Orders. Decisions. Travel. Planning. Doing. You say, “Being still is impossible. There are too many things to do.”

This kind of hectic living brings you into direct conflict with God’s design for you.

The Lord is my shepherd and I shall lack nothing. He has made me to dwell in green pastures; beside the waters of rest has He nourished me. He has brought back my soul; He has led me on paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Even as you read these words your heart longs for stillness. Since this is where the shepherd takes you, follow him there.

God often invites you to stillness through physical challenges – you are sick in bed, disabled by an accident, or tired from too much activity. You can also choose to be still with dedicated times of solitude, scheduled breaks in your day, or retreats a few days a year.

A Journey to Stillness 

From my experience, crafting a life of stillness begins by truly acknowledging your busyness and preoccupation with accomplishing things. Then it continues as you establish new patterns of stillness. Here are two:

  1. Leave the house and the electronics and enter nature. Actually observing stillness quiets your heart and body. With few exceptions, creation is still. Carefully observe the trees, flowers, birds, water (stream, lake, ocean), clouds, stars, sunrise/sunset, animals, and plants. Breathe deeply. Listen to the gentle tones of creation. Feel the caress of wind and warmth on your skin. Smell the fragrance of Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter. Imbibe the intoxicating splendor of God’s beauty. Or, step into the fresh blanket of snow and hear the sound of stillness emanating from the frozen flakes.
  2. Create a place of stillness in your own home – a spare bedroom, a favorite chair, or a semi-isolated corner of a room or basement. Furnish the space with a chair, table, and candle. Remove distractions. Include items that encourage focus on God – a picture or icon of Jesus, a cross, or a symbol of the Trinity. Make it a simple yet beautiful place you want to visit everyday.

The key to the at-home space is to use it regularly if not daily. Let it call you to be still with God. Light the candle, sit in the chair, let the stress and cares of the day fall from you. Relax and simply be with God. No agenda (you don’t have to try to hear anything from God). No expectations. No concern for results. Just be still with God.

As you learn to be still in these ways, stillness begins to blossom in your everyday life.

I don’t want to kid you. This sounds romantically easy. But, as you begin to enter stillness, you also begin to struggle with random thoughts, ideas, and perceptions. Don’t let this struggle discourage you from stillness. These distractions can be managed. I will share how in a future post.

For now, commit to establishing times of stillness in your life whether in nature or in your home. And then do it. You will begin to experience some of the benefits I shared in the last post. Above all, you will begin to know God in new and fresh ways.

Share below your experience of establishing stillness in your life.

Dr. K

85 Benefits of Stillness With God – Be Still & Know God

Transformation Through Stillness

In stillness, God is known. The Shepherd guides us to still waters that we might experience stillness and become still. Yet, almost everything in our culture, our Christianity, and our own habits convince us of our need for activity. Our lives are like a jar of water with sand in it. When agitated the water turns cloudy. But, when the jar sits still for a while the sediment settles and the water is clear. My journey includes many invitations to be still – first in physical struggles then in personal choices. From my own experience, I’ve discovered many benefits of stillness with God. These are listed to encourage you to be still with God.

Benefits of regular stillness with God

  1. Aligns your inner life with God
  2. Allows you to experience the energy/work of God
  3. Keeps you from trying to be as God
  4. Allows you to enjoy God’s presence
  5. Prevents you from making God in your own image
  6. Opens your heart to receive God’s love, light, and life
  7. Gives room for spiritual healing
  8. Provides opportunity for repentance
  9. Gives place for cleansing and forgiveness
  10. Enables emotional stability
  11. Helps you attend to God
  12. Opens your heart to God’s peace and comfort
  13. Helps you to learn obedience
  14. Helps you become aware of God’s presence everywhere
  15. Teaches you to trust
  16. Increases your capacity to give thanks
  17. Provides a haven of rest for the storm-tossed
  18. Bolsters your confidence in God
  19. Allows God’s glory to manifest itself
  20. Brings unity to your heart and mind
  21. Defeats the enemy of your soul
  22. Reveals the way in which you should walk
  23. Deepens your relationship with God
  24. Transforms your heart
  25. Allows God to correct your thoughts and purify your ideas
  26. Provides a foundation for a peaceful life
  27. Defeats anxiety and fear
  28. Opens your heart to God’s love
  29. Prevents you from running ahead of God
  30. Brings proper perspective to life
  31. Helps you see the good in submission
  32. Enlivens your spirit
  33. Teaches you humility
  34. Allows you to know God
  35. Gives opportunity to love God with your whole heart, mind, soul, and body
  36. Satisfies yet deepens your longing for the infinite and eternal
  37. Gives you hope
  38. Helps you become like Jesus
  39. Provides a safe place for your shame
  40. Allows you to face your sin in an environment of love
  41. Helps focus your heart and mind on heavenly things
  42. Teaches you to acknowledge God in all things
  43. Allows you to find clarity of purpose
  44. Diminishes your capacity to be agitated
  45. Increases your capacity for God’s life and love
  46. Teaches you to die to yourself
  47. Brings healing to your soul and body
  48. Opens your heart to God’s mercy
  49. You begin to see yourself for who you really are
  50. You hear the beautiful sound of your own heart
  51. You enter God’s rest
  52. You begin to experience wholeness
  53. You begin to live in the life of God vs. your own life
  54. You are enabled to battle your own negative passions
  55. You find the courage to face opposition
  56. You discover wisdom to navigate difficult waters
  57. Your burdens are lifted
  58. You begin to experience union with the Trinity
  59. Real joy enters your heart
  60. You drink from God’s fountain of mercy
  61. You hover in the abyss of God’s goodness
  62. The light of God’s countenance shines in you
  63. You find strength in your weariness
  64. You learn to surrender your will to God’s will
  65. You learn to relax
  66. Your inner being is refreshed and renewed
  67. You begin to learn to live from the heart and not just the emotions or intellect
  68. Your life begins to simplify
  69. You actually seek first the kingdom of God
  70. Your heart and mind learn to be quiet
  71. You are able to sit at the table with the Trinity
  72. You experience being seated in heavenly places
  73. You begin to be filled with all the fullness of God
  74. You learn the value of silence
  75. You begin to embrace all that God has given you
  76. You enter communion with God
  77. You begin to release your need to control
  78. You learn to let go of your attachments
  79. You learn the value of relationship
  80. You begin to experience prayer from the heart
  81. Your understanding of time is re-oriented
  82. The Beatitudes start to become real to you
  83. What is “normal” to you is redefined
  84. Stress is reduced
  85. You learn to center your thoughts and life on God

Make note of, write down or print and circle the benefits that you most long for. Let them motivate you to make time to be still with God this week.

Many of these benefits come only through ongoing experiences of stillness with God. They are not instantaneous results of stillness. You may need to struggle with stillness initially. Yet, in the struggles come the benefits. More “how-to” in the next post.

What was your heart sensing as you read this list of benefits? How will you be still with God in the next few days? Share below.

Dr. K

How To Be Still & Know God – Foundations

Begin the New Year Learning to Be Still

Do you want to know God better this year? Then, be still. Be quiet. Discover who God is as you hush your rampant thoughts and anxieties in order to calm your heart. This is not an easy task. Yet, it is in the stillness of your heart and body that you experience the reality of who God is.

When I ruptured my achilles tendon over 20 years ago, I was forced to slow down, let go of  many expectations, and focus on God in ways I had never experienced before. I could no longer do what I had easily done before. I had to rest and be still from the anxious way I had been living. I had to learn to relate to God on different terms. My journey had taken a change in course that caught me by surprise but was all good.

Experiencing God in Stillness

The Israelites were in trouble. Behind them, in hot pursuit, was the Egyptian army led by Pharaoh himself. In front of them was the Red Sea. They were trapped. Instinctively fearful, they began to cry out in complaint to God and Moses. “You have brought us here to die.” Moses replied, “Don’t fear. Stand firm, see the salvation of the Lord…The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be silent.” Be silent? Yes, be silent. Experience who God is – your salvation – as you stand in silent stillness.

The Choirmaster of the Psalms reminds you and me (Ps. 46) that:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling…

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter…The LORD of hosts is with us…

Be still, and know that I am God…

In the middle of trouble, anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and conflict, be still and experience who God is and what He can do.

Jesus, God in the flesh, invites you to come to Himself to find rest as the burdens and demands grow great. “Take My yoke upon you” – enter into the quiet relationship of stillness I have with the Father and Spirit. “Learn from me” – rest, stillness, and quiet only come as you learn humility and meekness from Me.

Stillness is the opposite of:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Restlessness
  • Worry
  • Mistrust
  • Fretfulness

Solution

Are you experiencing these realities as you enter this new year? There is a solution.

Stillness and quietness are found in an experiential relationship with the Triune God.

Quoting verses only takes you so far. Just engaging in physical techniques to calm yourself is not a long-term solution. Learning to quiet your mind and heart and discovering the Trinity there in the stillness is the way out of your fears and anxieties.

There will be more “how to” in the next UnCommon Journey post.

Are you tired of living in anxiety, fear, restlessness, and mistrust? Are you willing to join the journey to stillness and discover God there? Share your thoughts below. 

Dr. K