X-Ray Questions: Where do you find your refuge?

This week we continue our X-Ray Questions series, as we look at where you find your refuge. You can read the other posts in this series by clicking here.

X-Ray Question:

(10) Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, escape, pleasure, security?

This is the question that Psalms invites. It digs out your false trusts, your escapisms that substitute for the Lord. Many “addictive behaviors” are helpfully addressed by this question. They often arise in the context of life’s troubles and pressures, and function as false refuges.

Understand

In what we take refuge becomes evident when troubles and pressures arise in our lives. The thing(s) we turn to in order to escape those pressures are our false refuge. When pressures arise at work, or in your marriage, to what do you turn for help? Do you turn to a mistress, a drink, or gambling? Do you lose yourself in your work hoping to avoid the situation by working late? Do you let the pressure build until you burst in uncontrollable anger? Do you begin to abuse an illegal substance like marijuana or cocaine hoping that it will relieve the pain?

All of these are ways we can deal with the troubles and pressures in our life, but they are all false refuges. They only provide momentary relief, and often times create more problems than they fix.

Repent

We must repent by realizing that God is our only true refuge. The Psalmist makes this clear because God is the One the Psalmist consistently turned to over and over again. He knew God was his refuge because God alone provided him with escape, safety, security, comfort, and pleasure.

In Psalm 27:1, the Psalmist writes,

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

And in 27:5, he writes,

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

We too must find our refuge in the Lord, and we must repent of our unbelief. When we make other things our refuge, we show that we do not believe God has the power to protect us, to provide us with a refuge. We must cast off our unbelief by preaching the gospel to ourselves daily. For it is only in the gospel that we realize the power of God. Paul tells us that the same power God used to raise Christ from the dead is available for those who believe. He says,

And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above very name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (Eph 1:19-21).

If God is able to raise Christ from the dead, seat Him at His right hand, and give Him authority over all of creation, He certainly has the power to protect us. We must realize this and repent of our unbelief.

Scripture

Here are a few passages from God’s word to meditate on this week, as you consider where you find your refuge: Pss 23, 27, 31, 46.

All X-Ray questions taken from David Powlison’s book Seeing with New Eyes.

X-Ray Questions: What makes you tick?

This week we continue our X-Ray Questions series, as we look at what makes you tick. You can read the other posts in this series by clicking here.

X-Ray Question:

(9) What makes you tick? What sun does your planet revolve around? 

Where do you find your garden of delight? What lights up your world? What fountain of life, hope, and delight do you drink from? What food sustains your life? What really matters to you? What castle do you build in the clouds? What pipe dreams tantalize or terrify you? What do you organize your life around? Many gripping metaphors can express the question, “What are you really living for?”

To be ruled, say, by deep thirsts for intimacy, achievement, respect, health, or wealth does not define these as legitimate, unproblematic desires. They function perversely, placing ourselves at the center of the universe. We are meant to long supremely for the Lord himself, for the Giver, not his gifts. The absence of blessing – rejection, vanity, reviling, illness, poverty – often is the crucible in which we learn to love God for who He is. In our idolatry, we make gifts out to be supreme good, and make the Giver into the errand boy of our desires.

Understand

This weeks question is designed to help you answer the question: what are you really living for? The answer to that question will reveal our deepest most hidden idols. When we desire, as our end, things such as intimacy, achievement, respect, health, or wealth, we are seeking to place these things at the center of the universe instead of God. As creatures created by the one true God, we are meant to long for God Himself, not for the things that He can give us. When we long for the things He can give us, and seek to please Him only so He will give us what we want, we have turned the all powerful Creator of the universe, the One we should be worshipping, into our errand boy.

Repent

First, we should repent by realizing our desires can get in the way of our relationship with God.

Second, instead of desiring the things God can give us, we should desire God for who He is. He is the one that regenerated us, and provides us with everlasting life. He is the Creator of the universe, the reason we all exist, the reason we are able to eat, sleep, live, and breathe. Without His hand on our life, we would not have the things we have currently. God, not self, should be the one we live for. Pleasing Him should be the heartbeat of our lives.

However, in our sinfulness, living for God, not self, is a foreign concept, but because of the regeneration our hearts experience through Christ’s death, we are able to live for God alone. Through the death of His Son Jesus Christ, and our subsequent belief that His death paid the price for our sins, we are able to enjoy a relationship with God. Since we are able to commune with God, we should seek to worship Him and do the work that He would have us do, remembering we were not created for our glory, but for the glory of God.

Scripture

Here are a few passages from God’s word to meditate on this week, as you consider what makes you tick: Isa. 1:29-30; 50:10-11; Jer. 2:13; Matt. 4:4; 5:6; John 4:32-34; 6:25-69.

All X-Ray questions taken from David Powlison’s book Seeing with New Eyes.

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

X-Ray Questions: What are your plans designed to accomplish?

This week we continue our X-Ray Questions series, as we look at what your plans are designed to accomplish. You can read the other posts in this series by clicking here.

X-Ray Question:

(8) What are your plans, agendas, strategies, and intentions designed to accomplish?

This is another way to size up what you are after. The egocentricity lurking within even the most noble-sounding plans can be appalling. No one ever asserts,” The expansion of our church into a mega-church will get me fame, wealth, and power,” but such motives are garden-variety human nature. Their presence, even covertly, will pervert and stain one’s actions.

Understand

We should realize that by asking ourselves what our plans, agendas, strategies, and intentions are designed to accomplish will allow us to search out our true motivations for our actions. Our plan may be to do something noble, such as expanding our church. But we may be expanding our church for the wrong reasons. We need to check our motivations by asking ourselves what are we hoping to accomplish. Our human nature is geared toward self promotion and pride, so we must proceed with caution in all of our actions.

Another example may drive the point home better. Helping out at the local homeless shelter is a noble way to spend our time, but if we serve at the shelter with the intention of promoting ourselves to our community as a kind and charitable person, so we will be recognized or praised, even if the recognition or praise we are seeking is subtle, we have allowed our sinful nature to creep in and affect our intentions.

Repent

We must repent by meditating on the gospel. The gospel message teaches us that Christ humbled Himself to the point of death. He faced the cross for our sins. On the cross He atoned for our unrighteousness. Jesus could have followed His own agenda, worked off of His own plan, but He did not. Rather, He followed His Father’s plan. A plan that was designed to bring glory to God.

Christ’s death frees us from the bondage of sin. When we place our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are given the power to resist sin, giving us the ability to glorify God through our actions. Since we have been freed from the bondage of sin, we should seek to be like His Son and glorify God, rather than ourselves.

Since Christ has given us the power to cast down our fleshly desires and passions, we should desire to be obedient to God (1 Peter 1:13-21). This obedience includes exalting God over ourselves.

Next time we make plans, we should ask ourselves if our ultimate end is to glorify ourselves or the Lord.

Scripture

Here are a few passages from God’s word to meditate on this week, as you consider what your plans are designed to accomplish: Matt. 6:32-33; 2 Tim. 2:22.

All X-Ray questions taken from David Powlison’s book Seeing with New Eyes.

Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net