Thursday, February 22, 2007

So it takes a televangelist...

So it takes a televangelist to pull me out of the blog funk.

The other night, with my husband out of town and thus having control of the remote control, I was flipping channels and wondering to myself (and not for the first time) how there can be absolutely nothing worth watching. Well, out of curiosity, I paused on the channel featuring a very prominent televangelist, one I had certainly heard of and was somewhat familiar with his teachings, having read various comments and reviews both of his theology and his writings, as well as having watched his infamous appearance on Larry King Live.

His topic that night concerned how we talk to ourselves, the things we say to ourselves and tend to believe as true. Interestingly enough, I had just that same day read something along those same lines in Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney. In his chapter on our tendency to base our perceptions of what is true based on our feelings, Mahaney asserts we need to learn to talk to ourselves rather than listen to ourselves:
We let our feelings tell us what's true, instead of letting the truth transform our feelings...We can either listen to ourselves and our constantly changing feelings about our circumstances, or we can talk to ourselves about the unchanging truth of who God is and what He's accomplished for us at the cross through His Son Jesus.
As we "talk to" ourselves about what God accomplished for us at the cross, we remember who we were. Mahaney says earlier in the book:
We've all sinned and fallen short of God's glory...the most important thing I can teach [my son] is that...he's a sinner who desperately needs the substitutionary death of Christ for God's forgiveness.

And for years I've been teaching him the gospel, day by day. I tell him he's a sinner just like his dad, and that sin is his most serious problem. I put it in words that his young mind can understand, but I don't ignore or minimize the seriousness of sin. Through his actions and attitudes he has rebelled against his Maker. And this great God is perfectly holy and must respond with fierce opposition to sin...only when we understand God's wrath toward sin can we realize that we need to be saved from it...only those who are aware of God's wrath are amazed at God's grace.
Contrast Mahaney's straight talk about sin with the portion of the "sermon" (oops, I probably mean "message") I heard last night entitled "How to Have Confidence in Yourself." The speaker also asserted the importance of talking to yourself, but more along the line of the following statements:
You have what it takes. You are talented. You are creative. You can do what God has called you to do. You will be able to fulfill your destiny.
Before you get out of bed in the morning, he says, tell yourself that God is pleased with you and that something good is going to happen to you.

And as far as what we tell our children, he passionately proclaimed that it is important that we make our children feel good about themselves and not think they are bad. They may have done something bad, but they are good. God didn't make any junk. Tell them they've got what it takes and they are destined to do great things.

A very interesting contrast to Mahaney's straight talk to his son on sin and the wrath of God.

The televangelist's final point was that God created you to feel good about yourself. "Tell yourself 'I'm valuable.' 'I'm crowned with glory and honor.' 'Whatever I touch must prosper.'"

I get his point on the debilitating nature of what he described as "negative voices." I struggle with insecurity and sometimes those voices seem powerful indeed. Our enemy preys on our insecurity and does all he can to demoralize us.

However, if I am contradicting his lies of my worthlessness with "I am...I am...I am..." I will only find myself trading one set of strongholds, one set of insecurities, for another. Either I am worshiping myself by being preoccupied with how awful I am, or I am worshiping myself by concentrating on how wonderful I am. Either way it is pride and it is sin.

Yes, there are truths about myself that are worth affirming: I am loved with an everlasting love. I am chosen and redeemed and adopted and blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. But the point is not "I am" but rather "He has." He has loved me and redeemed me and blessed me and chosen me and adopted me--and all because of His love and the lavish riches of His grace! (Eph. 1:3-8)

The truth is, I do not "have what it takes." I am not "able to fulfill my destiny." I am not created to "feel good about myself." I sin, and as Mahaney said, sin is my most serious problem. Just between getting up this morning and sitting down at this computer a couple of hours later I sinned more than enough to deserve an eternity of hell (especially while taking my kids to school this morning, but that's another story). The only good in me and the only good in my life is nothing but the grace of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am (1 Cor. 15:10).

If I dare to minimize my sinfulness by believing the lie I deserve something good today or that everything I touch must prosper or that I am good despite the fact I do bad things--then I have dared to minimize God's grace and His glory displayed in the cross.

Am I listening to myself? Am I allowing my feelings, either of my worthlessness or of my deservedness, to govern my faith? Or, am I talking to myself, rehearsing the faithfulness of my God, remembering His grace and His mercy? Do I know the Truth of God's Word, and what it says about who I am, what I was, and how He redeemed me only because of His love?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)


  1. Amen, sister!

    I, too, struggle with insecurity, and I have tried many ways over the years to deal with it. The only way I have come to terms with it is to remember not to have confidence in myself but rather in the One who is my all in all.

    Excellent post.

  2. We're all born with a raging self-centeredness that needs redemption. The message of self-esteem that has long been preached in evangelical circles has ignored that fact and led us to believe self-centeredness is something to be nurtured and taught. Most don't have the discernment to know the error. Good post!

  3. I love the line "rehearsing the faithfulness of God". This post is so powerful Lisa. There is so much twisted truth out there. The one on Larry King "sounded" good and "sounded" Godly but like you pointed out, it was totally pointing to self and what self could accomplish which isn't true Godliness at all.

    Very well written Lisa, and something that needs to be pondered and my heart checked against on a regular basis.

  4. Listening to ourselves means lying to ourselves--enter the enemy o'daughter of Eve. He'll tell you exactly what he wants you to hear and make you think it's reason when it's only rationalized baloney.

    Great post, Lisa.

  5. Absolutely nothing new under the sun, is there Sister? This post nailed it, dead center. Well done!

  6. I know it is my weaknesses that I boast in...God's power is perfected in my weaknesses. I am not able,but God is!