Looking God in the Eye

As a little kid, I remember sitting in the wooden pew listening to the hymns sung by the choir. I learned eternal truths like: God is big, sovereign, holy, and loving.

However, somewhere along the way a lie also sank deep into my heart. I don’t know if anyone ever said it or if I just assumed it. Either way, the lie took root and it’s been sitting in my heart every since. Here’s the lie:

If I behaved, I had more permission to approach God. Otherwise, I couldn’t come close enough to “look God in the eye.”

Lincoln's Eyes

What’s “proper behavior”? I thought it was:

  • Reading my Bible daily
  • Praying daily
  • Not committing any of the “big” sins
  • Going to church every weekend
  • Giving money to the church
  • Telling God “thank you” before my meals

I was trying to perform my way into his presence. It was a frustrating cycle that led to disappointment with . . . myself.

Ever thought that? Maybe, you’re believing that now.

In Hebrews chapter nine, God says he isn’t impressed with anything we do. But he still invites us to walk right up to him and talk closely.

So, friends, we can now – without hesitation – walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body. So let’s do it – full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Hebrews 10:19-22 (MSG)

Whoa! I can look God in the eye and talk to him as if he’s sitting next to me on my coach . . . because he is.

God sits on his throne and he sits on my second-hand couch.

God does not love us because we serve him, give to him, or obey him. God loves us because he is love! He accepts us because we trust Christ.

One Simple Step

Forget your religious routine today. Because of Jesus, look God in the eye. Be bold. Walk right up to him.

Receive One Simple Step to grow your faith weekly via email by CLICKING HERE

One simple exercise to dramatically improve your leadership

Several years ago, I asked the 3 pastors I served with to complete an exercise with me. We would share two strengths and one weakness we saw in each other.

The four of us sat down. We prayed and then we began sharing.

First, we shared strengths. It was fun. It was encouraging. Our smiles formed easily.

Then, we shared weaknesses. It was awkward. It was difficult. Our smiles were forced.

Strengths and Weaknesses - Internal Part of a SWOT Analysis

When they shared my weakness, I was alarmed. The weakness they identified didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me is all three of them identified the same weakness. They all said, “You’re too thin skinned.” They said it more nicely but that was the jest.

Then we did one more round of strengths but I don’t really remember this final round because I was still hurting from what they’d just said about me. I played along hoping not to prove their point!

It was the kind of robust feedback true friends give. Suddenly, I had a clearly identified weakness to work on and two strengths to develop.

Three years later I was working with new friends in a different ministry setting. After a couple of years together, we completed a similar exercise. However, these new friends identified an entirely different weakness in me.

I was a bit curious so I told them about the weakness my co-workers had identified a few years earlier. They said, “Really? We have never seen that in you.” My wife confirmed that I had grown leaps and bounds in this area.

I can’t tell you how encouraging that was . . . and still is!

For me personally, this one simple exercise continues to help me improve my character and leadership.

How about you? Who’s helping you identify your weaknesses and strengths?

I wouldn’t ask just anyone. You may not want to ask your co-workers. Here’s the type of person I’d complete this exercise with. Someone who:

  • Shares your values
  • Knows you well
  • Their own life is worth following
  • They have your best interest at heart

One Simple Step

Ask people who meet the criteria above to complete this exercise with you.

Want to see the real you?

Do you like mirrors? I’m not a fan of ’em. They make me look older, fatter, and uglier than I think I am. Instead of my mental image of me, the mirror reveals a pumpkin. So I avoid mirrors.

Credit: Photo by Reagen Riggins

Credit: Photo by Reagen Riggins

But what about mirrors that reflect the REAL you – your heart, character, and attitude – do you avoid those? Those mirrors are all around you. Want to see the real you? Here are four mirrors that reflect the REAL you:

CHILDREN

Our kids reflect our strengths and weaknesses (character, attitudes, and passions). That’s the REAL you. Are you paying attention to this mirror?

  • Are your kids celebrating others? Are they others-focused?
  • Are your kids generous? Are they acting like stewards or owners?
  • Do they talk about God? Is God a “Sunday conversation” or do they talk about him as part of their daily life?

SCRIPTURE

I’m tempted to compare myself with other people to measure my spiritual progress. If I compare myself to a criminal I look good. If I compare myself to Billy Graham or Mother Teresa I look bad.

God’s holiness reveals our sinfulness. The standard isn’t my neighbor’s lifestyle but God’s holiness. Scripture is saturated with God’s holiness. Are you looking at this mirror?

  • What in God’s Word is changing you right now?

A CLOSE FRIEND

If you live across the country I can fool you into thinking I’m better than I really am. But if you see my life closely, I can’t fool you. Are you utilizing this mirror?

  • Who has permission and proximity to challenge the REAL you?

SPOUSE

Your spouse is the only adult who knows how you act and talk outside and inside of your house. Are you leveraging this mirror? Ask your spouse,

  • What do you see about the REAL me that encourages you and what needs work?

ONE SIMPLE STEP

Schedule time this week to look closely into one of these mirrors.

Even if you’re a pumpkin on the outside you can be a lion on the inside.

kitty