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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Time to Burn the Bill of Rights...

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I have recently acquired an ugly, pulsing spiritual bruise…just above the bridge of my nose. Yep, you guessed it: right between the eyes.

My community group has just begun a new study series: Seeking Him, Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival by DeMoss and Grissom. Excellent study. Perhaps, a little too excellent. The 2nd week just absolutely nailed me. Week 2's topic: Humility.

Ouch. Didn't see this one coming. There was a list of characteristics in one of the lessons, showing on one side the traits/habits of Proud People and, on the other side, those of Humble People. The activity asks you to circle the number of the traits that you believe are mostly true of you. So I did it. WHAM, seven out of the first twelve characteristics of proud people are true of me often enough that I couldn't avoid them.

Then, I turned the page.

Well, heaven's to Betsy, lookie there. Turns out there are two more PAGES of characteristics. The first 12 had already nailed me plenty, and now, I find that there are double that and then some to wrestle with. Hence the bruise.

I've got pride issues. Too often do I go through a day pretending to know better than God, pretending to be a good man, pretending to…well just pretending.

The trait that left the welt was phrased in this way: "Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation."

Somewhere, probably eons ago, I started to build my own Bill of Rights. And unlike the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights of our nation (which I support whole-heartedly), my personal Bill of Rights is a malignant cancer that needs to be burned.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are nice things. But I started creating my own personal rights, things like:
I have the right to entertainment.
I have the right to sleep in.
I have the right to sit on the computer for hours, for no good reason.
I have the right to eat whatever I want, whenever I want.
I have the right to be a full time author.
I have the right to take most of the summer for my own amusements.
I have the right to have kids that never argue or disobey.
I have the right to a wife who meets ALL my needs.
I have the right to experience God whenever I call to Him.

You have any rights like that? You see the problem with each and every one of them, don't you? God never promised me any of those things. All those selfish, me me me, rights are nowhere to be found in God's word. In fact, God mostly just tells me to do the opposite. I'm supposed to die to self. I'm supposed to put others' needs first. I'm supposed to lose my life to save it. I'm supposed to expect trials and hardships. I'm supposed to be content in all situations. But somewhere along the line, I whipped out the quill and scroll and started composing my personal Writ of Selfishness.

Unfortunately, I'm not alone. We hear all kinds of rationalization these days--even from Christian folks. But God wants me to be happy--seems to be the carte blanche excuse for all kinds of evils: affairs, abandonments, sinful sexual preferences, expenses, new toys, on and on and on.

Forgive me for being blunt, but I don't see anywhere in Scripture where God says "Do whatever it takes to be happy." As my good friend Christopher Hopper likes to say, "God is much more concerned with your character than He is with your happiness."

Take a good look at your expectations. Have you fashioned your own bill of rights based pretty much on you getting what you want, regardless? Are you placing ridiculously unfair expectations on your job, your spouse, your kids, your friends, or even God? How about when you're driving, when someone fails to let you into the lane of traffic you're aiming for, do you get really, really mad?

See the trouble with these prideful, self-created rights is that we will often go to any lengths to protect them. And we'll be insanely furious when someone infringes upon them.
"What do you mean, I have to take the kids to their dentist appointments? This is my day off!"
"Throw the ball around? No, not now. This is 'Daddy' time."
"I know the bills are tight, but we've just got to have a vacation."

Maybe you're thinking you might have a pride issue too. So what do we do about it?

Read this:

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,
   “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”

  And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said,
   “Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
  Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” Isaiah 6: 1-7

When the prophet Isaiah caught a glimpse of God's glory, His purity, His Holiness, well, Isaiah was undone. By comparison, Isaiah knew he was dirt.

In some ways, I find myself jealous of Isaiah. I mean, he had an up close and personal experience with God. Who wouldn't feel humbled in the presence of the Living God? But maybe, just maybe I lack the perspective to understand how devastating such a meeting might be to me. Maybe it's enough to learn all I can of God's holiness in His word. Certainly, there's enough in the Bible to humble me.

But still, maybe you'll join me in praying, "Lord, please send your messengers with coals from your holy altar to touch all the parts of me that are unclean, especially, my mind and heart. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Elizabeth Eiowing said...

Wow, that is a great article Sir Batson! I think we all need reminded of that! And I know I do with school. Too often I think it's just me doing my school and I forget about God and forget that he can help me. This definitely helped! :) Thanks!

Never Alone!

Ray Cullins said...

Wayne-- this is very helpful, if painful. How we need this!

Ray Cullins said...

Wayne -- thanks for posting this. As painful as it is, we need it.

Galadriel said...

Owch. Very convicting

Storyteller SilverLoom said...

Amen. He has spoken to me through you, Sir Batson. Thank you for letting Him.

Sarah Pennington said...

Oh wow . . . this is powerful, Sir Batson. Really powerful.

Mary Ruth Pursselley said...

Amen. Very convicting. It's so easy to lose track of just how prideful our behavior and attitude really are. Time for a reality check.

Robert Treskillard said...

Thanks for sharing, Wayne. Very convicting, and very true.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Great post, Wayne.

When God first confronted me with my pride, I remember being quite light-hearted about it. Hahah -- I have this little character flaw. Ugh! How far off the mark I was.

Many painful lessons later, I realize this is my life-time battle, part of the ever-present sin that God has forgiven me of but is also refining out of me.

The latest thing, which I think speaks to our tendency to write our own Bill of Rights, is the realization that I don't pray to convince God to do what I want Him to do. (My will is this, God, please come along side and make it happen, if it's your will too). Instead, I am to seek out His will and want that!

It goes something like, God, you've said we are to make disciples. Consequently, I want to proclaim your name so others can learn of you. You've given me this writing ability. It seems like the perfect fit -- proclaiming your name through writing. If I can do that through books, then bless the effort to find a publisher. If I can do that through blogging, then bring the visitors you want to read what you put on my heart and mind to write.

Anyway, you get the idea. It's been quite the revolution in my prayer life.


Stephen Dean said...

The way I've always said it is:

God is not as concerned about my happiness as He is my holiness.

Happiness and holiness don't often co-exist very well.

Katelyn Knickerbocker said...

This blog post really opened my eyes. It will definately help in my relationship with Christ. Thank you, Mr. Batson.
-Kate Knick.

Anonymous said...

WOW!! I just went on a girls' retreat and we went over that very same list! I told my friends I needed some ice cream after reading all those... I felt lousy. : ) We talked about irritations and what rights they corresponded with - like I get irritated when my siblings fight. That's a right to peace. Anyway, it was a good conversation. Thank you so much for sharing - I'll have to look over my notes again!


Ian said...

I really think we all confront this at some point in our lives wether we like it or not; it's just a trial we must face. And honestly, this post was very humbling for me. It takes courage to admit our pride, but a true hero to admit it to others. Wow, humility just pounded my skull. Thank you.

Let your wounds heal through the power of the Almighty! Amen

JezziannO said...

Wow, I never really thought about how little things like taking my own sweet time getting out of bed in the morning as pridefulness. It really opened my eyes. And I agree, sometimes I want an up close and personal visit with God. But, we have those each and every day. We are up close and personal when we pray and read the Bible. Thanks again.

The Master Author writes with the breath life, and creates our story from nothingness.

Anonymous said...

Mr Batson-

You have absolutely no idea of how very much I needed to hear this today. Every part of this post was so...uplifting, I guess is the right word. (Although it was at times painfully convicting)...
Thank you so much! Thank you for allowing God to speak through you!

Pathfinder said...

'Nuf said.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for posting, Sir Batson! It is very eye-opening!

Adam Jr said...

That was definitely well said, Mr Batson. If you think you have issues with pride, well, let's just say I am probably the worst among prideful humans. Thank you so much for providing such a personally touching article, and what a wonderful prayer you provided at the end. God has truly blessed you with amazing talents for writing!!

Adam the wanna be elf.

Thelmarie said...

Wow. Thank you for posting this, Sir Batson. It hurts, badly, but it's a really good kind of pain. :)

LydiaGrace said...

I am so convicted. I've been slacking with oversleeping, schoolwork, and my relationship with God. I've been struggling with not feeling ANYTHING when I spend time in His Word, and it's been a while since something has spoken to me so much. Thank you, WTB, you very possibly could have saved my Walk today. I have a feeling my lamp is gonna be on and my Bible open well into the night. You have no idea how much this spoke to me. Esp. since you struck me with my favorite passage of the Bible, showing me how blind I was, missing how hypocritical I was being, reading those verses, and changing nothing. Thank you.
In Him,

Anonymous said...

May the Truth set us free. Amen

Megan said...

This is a great article and I know I needed it, so thank-you for posting it and for letting God speak through you.