Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pleasing People

"'There is no other form of wickedness that can become more intense, nor its plans more vast, nor its obstinancy more enduring, nor its destruction more extensive, or more dreadful than the love of distinction."'--Timothy Dwight's sermon entitled, "On the Love of Distinction" (President of Yale College from the late 1700's to the early 1800's.) (pg. 17)

I am four chapters into a convicting and powerful read called Pleasing People, by Lou Priolo. As I stated in my earlier post, I hope to take each chapter and post some of the gems of Biblical truth and insight into sin that Priolo brings to light.

Chapter one is called "Characteristics of a People Pleaser." Priolo begins the chapter by stating the truths of I Corinthians 2:13. He warns against leaning on human wisdom and psychology to understand what man has labeled "co-dependency." Instead, I Corinthians tells us to diagnose our sin and lives, "not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." Priolo goes on and defines "co-dependency" as idolotry--looking for other things to do what only God can do in my life. He says that people pleasing is a more specific diagnosis that falls under the category of idolotry. It it the idolotry of self and approval from others over the approval of God. (John 12:43)

He gives a quiz to see if the reader falls into the category of a people pleaser. Let me spare you the pain of the questions. You do. I do. We all do. Even if you do not consider yourself a people pleaser, Priolo points out how we are all tempted to care about others' approval more than God's--though some more often than others.

Priolo says there are two driving forces to people pleasing--the desire for approval of others or the fear of losing someone's approval or respect--the two sides of the same coin. He gives a few ways in which you know that you sin in desiring mans' approval more than God's.

1. He fears the displeasure of man more than the displeasure of God. Fear of man is the motivation here. You have thoughts such as, "I'm not prepared to meet this person," "What does he/she think of me?", I can't reveal too much of myself or he will know what I'm really like and reject me.", etc. A people pleaser who fears mans' disapproval "is often willing to forfeit the peace of God that comes from standing up and suffering for the truth." (25) He also makes this careful distinction. "A people-pleaser is not a peacemaker, but rather a peace-lover. A peacemaker is willing to endure the discomfort of a conflict in the hope of bringing about a peaceful resolution." (25) They choose lack of conflict over giving the Biblical action or truth.

2. He desires the praise of man above the praise of God. Priolo gives the example of the Pharisees as a biblical portrait of this characteristic. He says that this individual says in his first thought, "not 'How will God be glorified by what I am about to do?' but rather 'How will others perceive me when I do what I am about to do?'" Priolo gives the Biblical examples of being pleasing to and glorifying God in Phil. 4:8, Romans 12:1, and Luke 17:15.

3. He studies what it takes to please man as much as (if not more than) what it takes to please God. This person is considered sensitive. They might label themselves as "reading people well." Priolo states, "The people-pleaser is so intent on gaining approval that he spends much of his time studying the interests, aversions, words, inflections, and body language of people. He is often inordinately sensitive to the countenances of those he is trying to please." (27) With this characteristic is a hypocritical love. He serves/loves others with the wrong motives. He is not really trying to show love Biblically, but, rather, he is trying to improve his own reputation or standing by acting in the interest of others.

4. His speech is designed to entice and flatter others into thinking well of him. Priolo gives the truths of I Thessalonians 2:4-5, which tell us we have been approved by God to give the truths of the gospel in order to please God, not man. However, a people-pleaser:
-Rarely confronts sin in the life of another believer.
-Rarely challenges or even questions the opinions of others.
-Prematurely terminates conflicts (usually by yielding, with drawing or changing the subject)
-Rarely reveals to others the truth about who he really is inside (especially struggles with sin)
-Finds it difficult to say "no" to those who make requests of him, even when he knows that saying "yes" is will not be the best choice.
and the list goes on . . . (pg. 28-29)

5. He is a respecter of persons. This type of individual will put more value on certain people because of their position, authority, reputation, wealth, looks, etc. He is often more kind and caring toward these certain people in order to gain, what looks like to him, an advantage. This goes against the commands of Leviticus 19:15.

6. He is oversensitive to correction, reproof, and other allusions of dissatisfaction or disapproval on the part of others. Any negative comment appears to be a threat to his reputation and he returns Biblical admonishment with foolish contempt, hate, withdrawal, sulking, or pouting.

7. He outwardly renders eye service to man rather than inwardly rendering sincere ministry to the Lord. Doing service for others to see, rather than for glory and obedience to God will cause sin and imbalance. Burnout often will follow. Also, this person doesn't base success on whether God was pleased with the service or attempt, but on how he did in the eyes of man and his definition of success.

8. He selfishly uses the wisdom, abilities, and gifts that have been given to him for God's glory and the benefit of others for his own glory and personal benefit. Wishing for more and practicing a lack of contentment is a sign of using gifts for the approval of others. Priolo gives a long list: "personal wealth, physical beauty, spiritual gifts, wisdom, vocation, artistic ability, athletic ability, verbal ability, musical ability, education, intellectual ability, financial status, family heritage, position in community, position at work, Biblical knowledge, reputation, spiritual accomplishments, location of one's home, appearance of one's home, accomplishments of children, and wordly possessions" are just a few he mentions. In themselves, they can be pleasurable gifts from God. However, when we lust for more or use the gifts to merely serve self, we have sinned.

9. He invests more of his personal resources in establishing his own honor than he does in establishing God's honor. The time, effort, thought and money given to personal edification are more than those given to God or His church body (for the proper motives).

10. He is discontented with the condition and proportion that God has appointed for him. We question God's choice for us. The people pleaser always wants more honor, authority, influence and wealth. A people pleaser isn't thankful.

Okay, that is the end of chapter ONE! I know! I was so full of pain seeing how subtle quirks in my behavior were downright, ugly, prideful sin, that I didn't know if I wanted to read further. However, I did. I'll post more later. I told you this was a convicting and powerful read!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Trip to Texas

We just returned from our whirlwind trip to San Antonio, Texas. I have piles of laundry calling to me from the other room, but I had to take a moment to post about the wonderful time we had. We arrived on Saturday and took advantage of the great time difference. We never got off our normal schedule, so Carter went to bed at 9:30 and slept in until 9:00 in the morning. It was great!

Our first night there, we went to the River Walk, which was steps from our hotel. It was so beautiful. Green canopies of trees and vines shrouded a lazy, winding path along a canal, which was puncuated with stone and wrought iron bridges. Along the shore were glowing lanterns and candles blinking from the patios of the various restaurants and hotels. Colorful boats, decorated in Texan red, white and blue, would carry visitors down the river on tours. Though it was extremely crowded and busy, it was paradoxically peaceful and lovely. We spent three of our nights at restaurants along the river, including one night watching the "Fiesta week boat parade" that just happened to fall during the week we were visiting.

The first full day we were in Texas, we drove to the outskirts of San Antonio and enjoyed a day at Sea World. I found it eerily enjoyable that an amusement park didn't have hour lines and crowds at every turn. The weather was actually nice--a little humid and warm, but some clouds kept the intense heat at bay. The day was wonderful, though it was nothing like the Sea World in San Diego. This Sea World had roller coasters, a water slide park and fewer animal exhibits. Carter enjoyed the playground area and the water park fun (picture the Ladera water park in Sea World). Ryan and I took turns on the roller coasters during Carter's nap in his stroller. Of course, we also enjoyed seeing dolphins, "Shamu", penguins, crocodiles, seals, sea lions, fish and sharks.

The second day we toured San Antonio. We visited the Mexican themed Market Square (much like the artisans mercado in Rosarito), the governor's Spanish house, the Tower of Americas (identical to the Space Needle in Seattle), a crazy wooden fort playground, the Alamo (we saw Isaac Millsaps name, Robby and Rebecca), the famous cathedral and many plazas with music and fountains.

The third full day we went to the San Antonio Children's Museum in the morning. Carter liked all the pretend play. Driving a bulldozer was probably Carter's favorite activity, though they had a star and cloud room that he liked immensely, pretending it was naptime and lying down to watch the stars. (Mommy and daddy appreciated this break too). In the afternoon, we drove to the Texas capital, Austin. We swam in the city's main park swimming hole, rode on the park miniature train, ate snow cones on a playground with Carter, saw the Capital Building, drove through the University of Texas, ate at an authentic Texas bbq place and ate the richest, yummiest ice cream at Amy's--a famous ice cream store found only in Austin.

It was such a fun trip. This might, God willing, be the last big trip with just the three of us. That made me wistful as we got on our plane to return home. We have so many fun trip memories with Carter. He is such a big ball of energy and fun. Though I got a "Ya'll have your hands full, don't cha?" in the elevator (as Carter was trying to scale the elevator wall), I wouldn't trade our adventures for anything. Thank you for all your prayers on behalf of the weather and our safety. Texas was terrific!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Texas, Totes and Terrific Truths

Well, thanks to my initial week in Facebook, my blog has suffered a bit. However, now that friends are set up, accounts and profiles are working and the features have become clear, I am finding myself able to just "check" on Facebook and resume my normal schedule. As you can tell from my title, I have a hodgepodge of topics to discuss, so here we go . . .
Texas! Ryan, Carter and I leave for San Antonio, Texas tomorrow. I cannot exaggerate the amount of people that say, "Why are you going to Texas? Do you have family there?" Apparently Texas is not a location destination in people's minds. I have always thought Texas sounded fun. I know it isn't Hawaii, but San Antonio has a quaint little river walk, the Alamo, and lots of kid friendly places to visit--SeaWorld, zoos, and children's museums. Ryan and I just wanted to take Carter somewhere and spend some time together as a family. Unfortunately, they are getting a rogue April heat wave. It will be in the 70's until we arrive, and the day our plane touches down, we begin about a five day pattern of temperatures soaring into the 90's. You can pray for our safety and endurance as we battle the Texan sun.

I finished my first tote bag without patterns or placemats. Perhaps in celebration of Texas, I picked out some red, western bandana fabric, and matched it with black lining and black ribbon straps. I put some interfacing in all the panels. Inside the bag, I sewed pockets with the same red bandana fabric. It was cute, but I made it way too big. I gave it to my Partner who just finished up chapter 10 in Partners. She was sweet and said she can always use an extra big tote bag for traveling.

The terrific truths I am currently discovering are from the book Pleasing People, by Lou Priolo. I am only a chapter into the book, but I am flabbergasted. Have you ever felt a book was written specifically for YOU? This is the case with this book. I am horrified at what I am learning about my pride and sin in light of choosing to be a people pleaser rather than a God pleaser. Not liking controversy and aiming to put people at ease always seemed innocent enough, but I am finding it is a way of attempting to exalt myself in others' opinions instead of worrying about glorifying God. He calls it a problem with loving approval. I am enjoying this read so much, I hope to post on each chapter as I further read the book. Priolo stresses that he will be using scripture, not psychology, in this book.
If you need to order some summer reads soon, I highly recommend getting this book.
Alright, I am off to go pack and finalize everything for our Texas trip. I'll post some pictures and blog all about San Antonio when we return! Goodbye, y'all.

Monday, April 14, 2008

American Idols

This weekend, Pastor Mike Fabarez gave our church a sermon entitled How to Get Eternal Life: Things that Stand in the Way. It was part 3 of his sermon series on finding true salvation. You can read and hear more at

"Then Jesus said to his dicsiples, 'I tell you the truth, it is
hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you it is
easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to
enter the kingdom of God.' When the disciples heard this, they were
greatly astonished and asked, 'Who then can be saved?' Jesus looked at
them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are
possible.'" Matthew 19:23-26

Using theabove passage, Pastor Mike first reminded us that, in order to be a true disciple, or Christian, one must count the cost. His first illustration reminded us how we think of becoming a Christian too lightly. Imagine if he went into the high school ministry and married all the kids who were dating. Parents would be irate, because we all know most kids of that age are not ready for a lifetime commitment of marriage or the humility and service that comes with marriage. How much greater is the eternal decision to follow Christ and make Him in charge of you life, your future, your everything? Yet, instead of asking if people are truly counting the cost of that relationship decision and understanding the commitment they are making, we just nod our heads when they say a simple prayer. Few of us rarely follow through with fruit inspection and taking the time to see if the commitment was real and true. We don't tell them that becoming a Christian means losing everything. God becomes Master. He is now in charge of our lives, not us.

Then the most painful conviction came. Pastor Mike's second point was to identify our own idols. We all have them. Sometimes our idols are "things", but they can also be people. An idol is anything we value more than God. It is something you wouldn't be willing to give to God. In our current American society, we often idolize family, especially kids. How many of us would be willing to lose a child, have a child get sick, or not have kids if that is what God asked of us? Do I love God more than I love Carter? I need to look at my ability to release control over Carter and his future.

Ryan and I faced this dilemma of idols when we were considering a job change for him last year. On the salary offered at a potential new job, in Orange County, we would most likely have had to sell our house and move into a townhome or a MUCH smaller home. This was agonizing. It took months for Ryan and I to get to the place where we could say, "Okay. Whatever God's will for us is, we are willing to give up our financial security." The job door was closed on us, so God never required this sacrifice of us. It was an eye opening experience as to the idols we grasp in our hearts, though.

Pastor Mike used passages such as Matthew 10:37, which says, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." He made an excellent point of stressing that God is not asking us to hate our "things" or our loved ones. We just need to love God MORE. God is in control of our lives, not any person, place or thing. Pastor Mike ended this point by saying that our ultimate idol is ourselves. Ouch. He read from II Cor. 5:15. Take time to look at your own life and see what idols you hold above God. Is it looks, family, spouse, job, house, education, time, traveling, image, financial savings and security, weight, health, or popularity? Identify your idols.

Finally, we heard the good news. We all have idols, and we all fall short of placing God first in our lives. We CANNOT do it on our own. However, we can ASK GOD FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE. We can ask God to exchange Christ's perfect life for our sinful one. In being born again, God is in control, we have the help of the Holy Spirit, and we have a DESIRE to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. God alone can make this possible in our lives. It requires faith and trust and accepting Him as master of our lives no matter what He asks or what circumstances we face.

Quoting our pastor's famous tagline, "Anything, anytime, and anywhere, Lord."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Disneyland and Facebook

This last Monday and Tuesday, Ryan and I had a fabulous date "get away" together. Thanks to my sweet in-laws' Christmas present of Disney bucks and my parents' Christmas present of annual passes, we were able to stay the night at the Grand Californian. We spent Monday afternoon in California Disney. It was a beautiful day, with a little breeze and plenty of sunshine. We were able to go on all the rides we wanted before dinner.

Sweet Ryan took me to the Napa Rose for dinner. Yum! It was some of the best gourmet food I've ever had. I went off watching calories for one night and had a filet mignon with brie topping over a cherry and cabernet demiglaze. Ryan had the BEST teriyaki shortribs ever! We split a side of bubbly, cheesy scalloped potatoes. Divine! "We" split a creme brule with a raspberry puree for dessert, but I think I ate all of it. I was SO full.

We then went into the Disneyland park for a night of more rides. We watched the fireworks and stayed until 10:30. We were SO tired!

The next morning, we got up early to do the Magic Morning. If you stay in a resort hotel, you get in the park an hour before it opens. They only open Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, but we got on Space Mountain, Star Tours and Matterhorn all before the park opened. Then, we stood over by the rope near Adventureland, so when the park opened we were one of the first on Indiana Jones. After a second ride on Thunder Mountain, we went over and devoured a breakfast at the Riverbelle Terrace. It was so nice just relaxing and watching all the boats and tourists.

With the advantage of 2 days, Magic Morning and Fast Passes, we got on everything we wanted to do. In fact, we counted that we had been on 24 rides. This is amazing considering the fact that it was insanely crowded on Tuesday--90 minute waits for the Matterhorn, 60 minute waits for Nemo, etc. It was spring break for many districts, which we didn't know when we booked the date.

It was so fun getting to "date" Ryan and have some time together. He is an incredible person and husband, and I appreciate every moment God gives us!

Moving abruptly to another topic, if you haven't join Facebook, do it! It is a fun way to keep track of friends and network. When you join, make sure you join the Compass Bible Church group. It is amazing how many people are on the site, and it gives you access to all the tools you need to find out what is new at Compass Bible Church.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Then the Manna Ceased

Upon reading my Read Through the Bible passages yesterday, I came across the following verses in Joshua: "And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year." Joshua 5:11-12. The Israelites have just entered the promised land, and, after 40 years of manna sent to feed them in the desert, they are finally able to eat the produce of the land.

It gave me reason to pause and think of the times God has given me "manna" in my times of difficulties. Am I always aware of the fact God is sending His provision, and do I remember to be thankful for it when I am not in a trial and the manna is stopped? God can send help in such forms as financial gifts and donations, ministries that encourage us and teach us, neighbors who give us company or babysitting when we are in need or are lonely, teachers who push us and discover or identify a gift we possess, a job that gets us through a period of time or leads to the next part of our calling, friends who admonish and encourage us in times of blessing and hardship, scripture that speaks directly to a trial we are facing and becomes a rock upon which we must stand each and every day, and/or service opportunities that teach us about giving glory to God in all circumstances. When a certain blessing and opportunity comes your way, do you acknowledge it as God's provision for you?

I fully surrendered my life to Christ my last year in college, right after graduation. I was already slated to attend UCLA's graduation program for education--a liberal environment, with few safety nets for a new, vulnerable Christian. However, God sent me manna in grad school. "Miraculously," all the Christians in the program were bold, active and loving followers of Christ. In addition, they all ended up being put on my particular school team. Over those two years, I was fed Bible studies, scripture and biblical perspective in the desert of the worldly ideas around me. I was given more Christian friends and opportunity for Bible study than I had ever had in all my years of growing up in the church. Then the manna ceased when I graduated, but I was able to eat the fruit of new Christian friends down in Orange County and nourish myself on the truths I received in the church I began attending near home.

I know we can all think of instances when God has sent manna to sustain us in short or long-term trials. Whether it was an ear to listen, a friend to encourage us, or a leader to admonish us, we were receiving tangible help from our Creator. It is important that we don't take blessings for granted or forget to acknowledge that all good things come from God. James 1:17 tells us that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." If you have a benefit in your life, an encourager or a temporary piece of manna to feed you, recognize it is from God.

We must first acknowledge from where we receive provision, but then we must respond in thanks. So often, life moves forward or returns to "normal", the provision is not needed,is removed, and we forget. We forget about God's goodness. We forget we can trust Him. We forget He is faithful. We forget to be thankful. In Luke 17: 11-19, Christ heals ten lepers. Only one leper returns to thank God and glorify Him. In verse 17-19, Jesus says, "'Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?' And He said to him, 'Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.'" Are we giving God the glory? Do we recall His gifts and profess His goodness to others? Do we use our stories of manna in the desert to encourage others?

Take time today to count your blessings and recognize the manna God is sending you in such forms as people, worldly needs, and scriptural food. The Israelites placed manna in the Ark of the Covenant so they would never forget God's provision to them in the desert. (Hebrews 9:4) If you find yourself moving forward and not needing or receiving a certain provision, give thanks to God for the times He has ministered to you with His help. Remember He loves you and is your comforter in times of difficulty. Though the specific type of "manna" may come and go, may our hearts continuously glorify God despite our circumstances and remember He is God . . . in the desert and in the land of plenty.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lead by Example: A Servant's Heart

"Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross! Philippians 2:2-8
Over and over again in scripture, Christ calls Christians to be servants (as does Paul in these verses from Philippians), to demonstrate humility and to love others. Serving is a natural outpouring of a Christian's life.

When parenting our children, it is important that we are teaching these truths by example. Children hesitate to obey what they hear but do not witness from us, especially as they get older.

My small group in Women's Bible Study was recently brainstorming different service projects available to do as a family. Women were worried their children were selfish and not appreciative--especially those with teenagers. They wanted to know about mission trips to Mexico or shelters to visit.

Though these are great ideas to incorporate, every parent should make sure that serving is not just a sporadic part of the schedule on your calendar. It should permeate everything you do throughout the day. Your children, and MORE importantly, your Heavenly Father, are watching YOU!

Brainstorm how YOU can demonstrate a servant's heart--give that parking spot to the other car, let someone go ahead of you in line, help pick up the dropped item off the floor, be polite even when the clerk is not being kind, bring dinner to your neighbor, help clean up after a party or event, pick roses from your garden to share with someone, watch someone else's kids so he or she can go to an appointment, return that cart at the store to the right spot, take the time to send THANK YOU's, bring some water to the gardner working outside, do that chore your spouse normally does that you dislike, make cards and scripture encouragement for people in trials, serve faithfully and often at church, and PRAY for others and your attitude throughout the day.

Whew! Those are just examples, but I know if we truly were living that way each day, all day, it would become a more natural attitude in our children as well.

Tana Larson is the Women's Bible Study coordinator at Compass Bible Church. She is a great example of living a life of serving AND having her children practice this as well. I was face painting with her two daughters at our church's Eggstravaganza event for Good Friday. They were there with great attitudes and lots of energy. They are faithful helpers in the kids' ministry, and they help with any whole church event that arises--cleaning, setting up, working booths, stuffing Easter eggs, and many other various tasks. They are learning by the example of Christ in scripture and their parents throughout life, and they practice the command to serve others and humble ourselves.

If you suspect your children (or your own heart) are starting to become discontent or selfish, look at your daily habits. Are you serving others first, or have you started to let the distractions of the day and pressures of the culture around you push you and/or your children to the front of the line?

"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:39

Thursday, April 3, 2008


The following is a post from Pastor Mike Fabarez's blog. Learn more about his, "How to Get Eternal Life" series and see his posts at by clicking on the address link.

True Truth

By Mike Fabarez

Truth is always true. Even so, it is amazing how many people seem to think it’s up for grabs. While we can reasonably reach an impasse as to which restaurant has “the best” Mexican food, when it comes to what you had for lunch yesterday there is a right and wrong answer. That’s the thing about “truth” it’s not true unless it has a correspondence to reality. I may want to believe that I have a million dollars in my checking account and I owe nothing on my credit card, but the bank and MasterCard are always good at evaluating my beliefs against the objectivity of reality. Truth claims about God, Jesus and the afterlife are no different. Either there is a God or there isn’t. Either Jesus is able to take the debt of my sin away or he can’t. I will either cease to exist when I die or face my Maker on the other side. The reality of these truth claims is what matters, not my feelings about them. And that sends me down a different path than most prefer to travel. I must expend my efforts exploring the evidence, not my preferences. I have to investigate facts, not my feelings. It is our job to be truth-seekers not opinion-formulators. I trust that we will be up for the challenge of always seeking to know what’s true, not popular. And as a result I pray that the church will once again be known as the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (1Tim.3:15).