Archives For Authenticity

Did you like to dress up as a child?

Who’d you like to dress up like?

I used to dress up a lot.

Sometimes against my will…my sisters would dress me up!

Most often, I chose to dress up.

Some of my favorite times to dress up was for Tea Parties my grandmother would throw for us.

dress up with cousins

tea party with Grandma1

Do you ever feel like you’re playing an adult game of dress up?

Could you be and not even be aware of it?

Today I want to talk to you about self-awareness.

Self-Awareness: conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

Why is this important?

Good question.

If we are aware of who we really are—in Christ and as created by God—there will be at least 4 blessings we will experience, so I want to give you 4 questions you can ask yourself as a way of testing your level of self-awareness.

I’d argue that the most self-aware person to ever live is Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at His life as the model for a person who was self-aware.

Mark 1:32-38
32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

“That is why I came out.”

This reveals one of the first blessings of self-awareness: Purpose

And, the first self-awareness test question:

Why are you?

Jesus knew why He was on this planet.

Why are you on this planet?

A chicken will run around for a while after its head has been cut off, proving…activity doesn’t equal vitality.

Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean that you are doing what God put you on this planet to do.

“How do I know my purpose?”

Ask God.
Olympic runner Eric Liddell did and here’s what he said:
I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.

What is it…when you do it…you feel God’s pleasure?

Ask Others.
What would your spouse, your best friend, your kids say if you asked them, “What do you think I’m supposed to be doing with my life?”

Ask Yourself…
What am I good at?
What do I like to do?
What do I have to do?

Let’s look at the life of Jesus again.

Immediately after His baptism Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Matthew 4:1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

This reveals a second blessing of self-awareness: Protection

And, the second self-awareness test question:

Who are you?

As the son of God, Jesus had inherent protection when the enemy attacked.

Who are you?

A few important things I want to point out.

Jesus’ hair was still basically wet from His baptism when He is tested and tempted by the devil.

You will be tempted!
Satan—knowing Scripture—tried to use God’s word to bring Christ down.

Satan knows God’s Word, so you should too!

Satan knew who Jesus was so he tried to use Christ’s power and ego against him.

But, Jesus remembered who He was…and is…so He stood strong against this attack.

Jesus knew who He was…the Lord.

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

Remember who you are!

When the enemy attacks you, remember—in Christ—you are a child of God!

Don’t take any of his crap!!!!

Just like with Jesus, Satan will attack you physically (stone to bread).

But, you’re going to reply… “Get out of my face! I’m a child of the one true God!”

Satan will try to attack you emotionally (ego: angels will rescue you).

But, you’re going to reply… “Get out of my face! I’m a child of the one true God!”

Satan will try to attack you spiritually (worship him and not God).

But, you’re going to reply… “Get out of my face! I’m a child of the one true God!”

In Christ, we have inherent protection because of who we are!

Let’s go back to the life of Jesus again.

Matthew 17:1-8
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

This reveals a third blessing to self-awareness: Power.

And, the third self-awareness test question:

Whose are you?

Jesus, knew He belonged to God, and that gave Him power. The disciples fell on their faces and were terrified.

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

In Christ, you belong to God!

Do you know whose you are?

Let me point out a couple of things.

There is power in authenticity.

Two lies we too often believe:
If people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me.
If God really knew me, He wouldn’t like me.

We don’t have to play dress up anymore. God adores you!

John 3:16
 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 2:4-5
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—

There is power in belonging to God.

Psalm 34:19
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Nahum 1:7 
The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 
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.

2 Thessalonians 3:3
3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

Let’s look at the life of Jesus one more time.

John 14:1-6
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This reveals a third blessing to self-awareness: Peace

And, the fourth self-awareness test question:

How are you?

This section begins with the disciples not at peace. They are troubled.

But Jesus, who is completely self-aware, calms them by giving them some truth to embrace.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

Jesus is aware of exactly who He is and this brings peace to the chaos around Him.

When you and I are not at peace, we add to the chaos around us.

When you and I are not okay, we tend to make others around us not okay, too.

So, let me ask this last important question:

How are you?
Don’t play dress up?
How are you?
Sad?
Discouraged?
Happy?
Bored?
Depressed?
Excited?
Being self-award and admitting we are imperfect is not an ending, but a beginning.

The Blessing of Being Self-Aware Enough to Admit We’re Not Perfect

Admitting imperfection is a double-edged sword. The blessing of admitting that we aren’t perfect is healing. Alcoholics Anonymous has been unbelievably successful in healing people struggling with alcohol addiction by requiring authenticity.

Each meeting starts with members confessing, “My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic.”
If I could, I would start each Sunday morning worship service by requiring each member to stand and get real.

“My name is Mike and I’m afraid of losing my job.”
“My name is Mary and I can’t pay my bills.”
“My name is Jennifer and I don’t understand why my teenaged daughter won’t talk to me.”
“My name is Adam and I’m afraid I’m going to die.”
“My name is Teresa and I don’t like myself.”
“My name is Javier and I have no idea of how to be a good father, because my dad left us when I was five.”
“My name is Lori and my heart is broken.”
“My name is Peter and I’m depressed.”
“My name is Rebecca and my husband just left me for another woman.”
“My name is Robert and I’m addicted to pornography.”
“My name is Peggy and I hate working in the nursery, but I’m afraid to tell you all because I don’t want you to think I’m a bad person.”
“My name is Arron and I want you to like me.”

Since we are imperfect humans living in a fallen world, we all eventually encounter pain, problems, failures, doubt, and fear. We can choose to deny life’s problems and hide them behind a forced smile, a wink, and empty words:
“I’m doing great. How ‘bout you?”
“Couldn’t be better!”
“Can’t complain.”

Knowing who He was gave Jesus peace in the midst of the storms of life.

Knowing who you are will give you peace in the midst of the storms of life.

We are missing the blessing of authenticity because we have bought into the lie that it’s un-Christian to struggle on any level.

It’s not un-Christian to have problems.
It’s not un-Christian to hurt.
It’s not un-Christian to struggle with sin.
It’s not un-Christian to have a difficult marriage.
It’s not un-Christian to make mistakes while raising children.
It’s not un-Christian to hate your job.
It’s not un-Christian to be afraid to die.
It’s not un-Christian if sometimes we are even afraid to live.

I know it seems to be counter intuitive, but you and I are more powerful when we admit that we are sometimes weak.

And you and I are more courageous when we admit that sometimes we’re scared to death.

And you and I are closer to Christ’s perfection when we admit that we aren’t perfect.

The Curse of Being Self-Aware Enough to Admit We’re Not Perfect

The curse of admitting that we are not perfect is potential pain. When we expose our hearts we make ourselves more vulnerable. Authenticity involves risk. I have to tell you that it is a lot safer playing the game and never truly revealing to anyone who you really are. If you decide to get real you are most likely going to get hurt somewhere by someone. Authentic imperfect people make themselves targets for ridicule, judgment, and shame.

An imperfect life is not for cowards. Admitting imperfection requires vulnerability and vulnerability makes us more susceptible to pain. Authentic people know the pain of having secrets—entrusted to a friend discreetly—shouted mockingly by an enemy for all to hear, of tears—spilt in sorrow to a loved one—brought back to try to drown you in shame by one seeking revenge, and of freely sharing our true selves—with the hope of finally being accepted—only to have our true selves ridiculed and rejected by heartless critics. Hurt people hurt people. Openly imperfect people are often attacked by delusional imperfect people who think that they are perfect and find it easier to criticize flaws in others than to deal with their own imperfections.

But openly imperfect people also know that the healing and liberation that can only be found in authenticity is worth the risk of the hurt.

One day I fell off my bike while racing down a gravel road, opening several large wounds on the left side of my body. It took about an hour for Matt’s mom to clean the dirt and gravel out of those wounds. It hurt, but I knew it was the best thing to do.

The next morning I had a soccer game. My wounds were bandaged and somewhat forgotten until I slid in the dirt to kick the ball, ripping off the bandages and filling every wound once again with dirt. I went to the sideline, re-covered my dirty wounds with fresh bandages, and continued to play the game.

After the game my Dad took me out to the picnic table in the back yard. Slowly and carefully Dad removed each bandage exposing my dirty wounds to the air. Once my wounds were exposed he began to clean them. Each wound was covered in dirt. I cried as my Dad scrubbed away the dirt exposing the raw and painful wounds. The pain was excruciating. To this day I can still hear my Dad whispering, “I’m so sorry, son. I know this hurts, but your wounds won’t heal properly unless I get all of the dirt out.” I made myself vulnerable to my Dad because I knew that he had the best intentions. I endured the pain because I wanted to be healed. Hurt was the price I paid for healing.
Some of us are walking around with wounds that will not heal simply because—out of the fear of pain—we refuse to reveal them to ANYONE. And because we refuse to reveal them, they have not been healed. God’s word clearly teaches us that there is healing found in acknowledging that we are imperfect.

In 1 John 1:8, 9 we read, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Now admitting our imperfections—our “sins”—to God may not be a pleasant experience. In fact it may be a very painful ordeal, but John clearly teaches us that only in confession to God do we find forgiveness and purification.

In James 5:16 we read, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

Healing…that’s the goal.

So, let me ask you those 4 self-awareness test questions one more time.
Why are you?
Who are you?
Whose are you?
How are you?

Don’t put the costume on…unless your Grandma is throwing a really cool tea party this afternoon!

Just be aware today of the blessings you have in Christ?

You have…
Purpose
Protection
Power
and Peace.

©2017 Arron Chambers

 

Get Real

March 30, 2012 — 1 Comment

Recently I was asked to explain what I meant when I spoke about being “real,” so I wrote this.

Of Christians and the Church, one of my heroes, Deitrich Bonhoeffer said:


We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretense; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?
–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Reckoning made at New Year 1943

An authentic life is a powerful life.

Too many people have bought into the lie, “If people really know you then they won’t really like you.” So they hide their pain, fear, doubts, and insecurities behind a façade and doom themselves to a shallow existence in which broken hearts are hidden, pain is ignored, and potential loved ones are kept at arm’s distance.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been unbelievably successful in healing people struggling with alcohol addiction by requiring authenticity. Each meeting starts with members confessing, “My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic.” “My name is Beth and I am an alcoholic.” “My name is . . . and I’m an alcoholic.” This is a difficult, but essential confession for anyone who truly wants to be healed.

For true healing to occur the mask must come off. The hypocrisy must end.

The problem cannot be healed until the problem is confessed.

As a minister I’ve dealt with hurting people on a weekly basis for many years. I anticipate our Sunday morning services for many reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity for people to get real with each other and with God. But it happens every week despite our best intentions.

Each Sunday in our Church and in Churches around the world Christians wake up to the same serious problems that non-Christians have. Determined to persevere, they get ready, drive to Church, park their car, and resume the game. The “I don’t have a care in the world” mask goes on before they get out of the car, and as they walk through the doors of the church the game begins.

If I could, I would start each Sunday morning worship service by requiring each member to stand and get real.
“My name is Mike and I’m afraid of losing my job.”
“My name is Mary and I can’t pay my bills.”
“My name is Jennifer and I don’t understand why my teenaged daughter won’t talk to me.”
“My name is Adam and I’m afraid I’m going to die.”
“My name is Teresa and I don’t like myself.”
“My name is Javier and I have no idea of how to be a good father, because my dad left us when I was five.”
“My name is Lori and my heart is broken.”
“My name is Peter and I’m depressed.”
“My name is Rebecca and my husband just left me for another woman.”
“My name is Robert and I’m addicted to pornography.”
“My name is Arron and I want you to like me.”

Since we are imperfect humans living in a fallen world, we all eventually encounter pain, problems, failures, doubt, and fear. We can choose to deny life’s problems and hide them behind a forced smile, a wink, and empty words:
“I’m doing great. How ‘bout you?”
“Couldn’t be better!”
“Can’t complain.”
Or, we can get real and admit that since we are not God we could use some help and, in getting real—we will unleash a revival that will transform our lives, our churches, and our communities.

Are we still of any use?

October 8, 2008 — 2 Comments

Of Christians and the Church, One of my heroes, Deitrich Bonhoeffer said,

We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretense; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical.  Are we still of any use?  What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, straightforward men.  Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Reckoning made at New Year 1943

I’m so burdened by the burdens that people are carrying through this life, but I’m also troubled that so many Christians don’t feel safe in sharing those burdens with other Christians.
Authenticity is power.

(The following is an excerpt from my book Remember Who You Are.)

An authentic life is a powerful life.  Too many people have bought into the lie, “If people really know you then they won’t really like you.”  So they hide their pain, fear, doubts, and insecurities behind a façade and doom themselves to a shallow existence in which broken hearts are hidden, pain is ignored, and potential loved ones are kept at arm’s distance. 

Alcoholics Anonymous has been unbelievably successful in healing people struggling with alcohol addiction by requiring authenticity.  Each meeting starts with members confessing, “My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic.”  “My name is Beth and I am an alcoholic.”  “My name is . . . and I’m an alcoholic.”  This is a difficult, but essential confession for anyone who truly wants to be healed.  For true healing to occur the mask must come off.  The hypocrisy must end.  The problem cannot be healed until the problem is confessed. 

As a minister I’ve dealt with hurting people on a weekly basis for many years.  I anticipate our Sunday morning services for many reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity for people to get real with each other and with God.  But it happens every week despite our best intentions.  Each Sunday in our Church and in Churches around the world Christians wake up to the same serious problems that non-Christians have.  Determined to persevere, they get ready, drive to Church, park their car, and resume the game.  The “I don’t have a care in the world” mask goes on before they get out of the car, and as they walk through the doors of the church the game begins. 

If I could, I would start each Sunday morning worship service by requiring each member to stand and get real.  

“My name is Mike and I’m afraid of losing my job.”

“My name is Mary and I can’t pay my bills.”

“My name is Jennifer and I don’t understand why my teen-aged daughter won’t talk to me.”

“My name is Adam and I’m afraid I’m going to die.”

“My name is Teresa and I don’t like myself.”

“My name is Javier and I have no idea of how to be a good father, because my dad left us when I was five.”

“My name is Lori and my heart is broken.”

“My name is Peter and I’m depressed.”

“My name is Rebecca and my husband just left me for another woman.”

“My name is Robert and I’m addicted to pornography.”

“My name is Arron and I want you to like me.”

Since we are imperfect humans living in a fallen world, we all eventually encounter pain, problems, failures, doubt, and fear.  We can choose to deny life’s problems and hide them behind a forced smile, a wink, and empty words:

“I’m doing great.  How ‘bout you?”

“Couldn’t be better!”

“Can’t complain.”

Or we can get real and admit that since we are not God we could use some help and, in getting real—we will unleash a revival that will transform this church and this community.