Soul Check: We all wear them. It’s time to expose and remove them…

Take off the masks of shame and fear …

leafWe trek through life hiding behind fig leaves—masks—that shield us from God and each other.

In the beginning, we were not ashamed, Genesis tells us, until we departed God’s way.

The mask of shame separates us to hide our flaws from others.

The mask of fear alienates us to keep others from discovering our deep dark secret that we don’t measure up.

dreamstime_masks xs_26337923Shame and fear.

Shame for being flawed, and fear that others will find out we’re flawed.

God donned a cloak of flesh to lead us on the trail to overcoming shame and fear.

Yes, we’re flawed. And yes, we don’t measure up.

But Jesus measures up with no flaws. His blood covers us, strips the need for fig leaves. He lifts us out from behind the mask-barricade of shame and fear to His Throne of Grace, Truth and Life, clothed with His righteousness.

Behind fear we pretend we know what we’re doing to keep others from finding out we don’t have what it takes. In Christ we lay down our pride to find true significance. We see His image reflected, our sin that warps the reflection, and His forgiveness that empowers us to fulfill His purpose.

Behind shame we dress to fit in with others. In Christ, we already fit secure in Him with boldness to follow His path of love toward others.

Behind fear we smile to hide our disabling hurt. In Christ, we surrender our hurt so His healing can flow to ourselves and others.

Adopted as His ChildrenBehind shame we twist our tales so people don’t know how weak we really are. In Christ we recognize our weakness as evidence of God’s amazing mercy. We find forgiveness and rest in who He’s shaping us to be.

Behind fear we strive to build and prolong the stubble of prestige and power. In Christ, we yield our prestige to His fire, and He gives us the power of His love. He builds us as unshakeable gold on the eternal Rock of Himself.

Behind shame we shy away. Behind fear we push our way. In Christ, we find The Way to confidence and rest.

Everyone of us sees through a glass darkly. Everyone. We know in part and prophesy in part. In Christ, we share the part He’s given us, and receive the part that others share. Partaking in the body of Christ together with abandoned trust in our King, the masks fall away. We all become more whole.

Genesis 2:25; 3:10; Isaiah 30:15; 54:4; Matthew 7:24-27; Romans 3:22-26; 10:11;  1 Corinthians 3:11-17; 13:9, 12-13; II Corinthians 3:17-18; II Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 4:15-16; Revelation 3:17-18; 1 John 2:28

“Many blessings” can have very different meanings to different people…

CampfireGreg* sat in the front seat of a van, enjoying the voices of the 20-or-so other passengers who sang with gusto. Men and women were packed in the vehicle, leaving only enough room for smiles and music. As an American on a missions trip in India, Greg wondered how so many could possibly fit in one van, yet the natives didn’t notice anything unusual. The van traveled to several villages, returning people home after the church service.

Greg couldn’t understand any of the Hindi lyrics, except the phrase, “Glory, glory, glory!”

He enjoyed his fellowship with these brothers and sisters who loved and served the Lord Jesus with passion, but their poverty surprised Greg. The van delivered many to small, one-room mud huts that housed entire families. With no electricity or running water, and an outside fire that served as their kitchen, they had to bend down to fit into the door.

Greg had heard about the poverty, but the reality of seeing his friends live there hit his heart. How much more precious to him were the joy that gleamed from deep within their souls, and the abiding peace in their eyes, even those with physical pain and ailments.

“Glory, glory, glory!” they continued to sing.

“I understand ‘glory,'” Greg said to his English-speaking friend, “but what are the other words they’re singing?”

His friend didn’t hesitate, “Thank you, God, for Your many blessings.

Needless to say, that humbled Greg, who would soon return to a house that was modest by American standards, but a castle compared to those of his new friends. How often had he complained about his house, wishing for more room, while these friends lived in such poverty, thanking God for their “many blessings.”

Puts things into perspective.

Yes, we thank You, Lord Jesus, for any material blessings, for beautiful sunsets, food and shelter. Most of all, Dear Savior, we thank You for giving us Yourself, Your righteousness, joy, strength, peace, love and truth. Thank You for creating us within a community of people, bearers of Your image, so we might experience and extend Your love.

*True story, but name changed.

– Patricia Tillman

Of Governments, Listening Prayer, and Mainstream Media

multitude praisingDuring my intercessory prayer times, it’s rare that I don’t spiritually sense impending, severe hardship and persecution for the church. Other Christ-followers around the world may say, “What do you mean impending? The hardship and persecution have long been here!” Indeed.

From the perspective of the American church, we currently live in comfort. Even lower-middle-class people possess houses that look like palaces to most of the world. There’s no condemnation in that. “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.” Americans can give much.

But there’s a prophetic sense among many Christ followers that hard times will increase. God’s kingdom grows brighter, and the brighter the light the more the enemy kicks and screams and rises against us to try to crush us. If we focus only on what we see in the news, we can get discouraged. We hear what governments are doing, and the evil that leaders accomplish.

Remember the truth: All nations will fall. That’s a fact, no matter who we vote into office (which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t vote). But “the increase of [Christ’s] government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).

History pivots on the kingdom of Christ.

worshipping GodGod’s news differs widely from mainstream news. God’s news is about the people of His kingdom, most of whom our media overlooks. From God’s viewpoint, His people take the spotlight. His news concerns the man beaten in China because he refuses to reveal the names of fellow church members, and how those members continue to introduce many to Christ. Heavenly news rejoices over the multitudes of micro-ministry initiatives that take risks to bring Christ’s government to millions of lives and situations across the planet. Heavenly news declares that the more persecution the world’s rulers bring, the more they expose raw evil that impels people to seek and surrender to Jesus’ true love.

Tens of thousands surrender daily around the world, and that’s headline news in the kingdom of heaven (Luke 15:6-7).

I sometimes catch myself complaining about the complacency of the church—which is true for some who need confrontation (myself included). But I forget how Christ LOVES His church with burning passion. “He was numbered with the transgressors“—the people I flippantly accuse. Only Christ was given authority to separate sheep and goats, not me (Matthew 25:32-33).

It’s easy to forget how many knees have not, and never will, bow to Baal. Most we don’t see on mainstream media. It’s easy to lose sight of the multitude of faithful members who compose this Body in which we partake. Our King has full control, building us up for the past 2,000 years to become His bride without spot or wrinkle. The gates of hell will not prevail, and that’s a fact.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (II Corinthians 4:7-9).

I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly (Romans 16:19-20).

I Kings 19:18; Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 16:18; 24:7-13; 25:31-33; Luke 21:8-19; Romans 16:19-29; Ephesians 5:26-27; Revelation 11:5

Also get Keith Yoder’s teaching Ethics, from our Legacy Leadership Series

– Patricia Tillman