How Does Someone Become A Narcissist? Five Possible Ways

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I prefer to have blog entries “locked down” before publishing, but in this case I felt it best to go with my work in progress of analyzing the difficult question of how someone might become a narcissist.  This is an extra special case of “Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective“, where this post should be taken simply as a fellow searcher sharing some thoughts and analysis which you could possibly use as a starting point for your own study rather than looking to it for “the answer”.  Some of the following adds a bit of Biblical perspective to what is already discussed in secular literature.

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How does someone become a narcissist?  In It’s Not NPD, It’s A Heart Issue, narcissism is discussed as a heart issue, but how does this happen?  I am currently working through five possible reasons someone can become a narcissist.  The following has to be considered in light of God’s ultimate Sovereignty as described in Proverbs 16:4, as well as the sin nature and pride inherent in every man.  I want to emphasize again that this post is a work in progress, and should just be taken as food for thought.

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The five causes we’re considering are:

  1. Internal response to childhood wounding
  2. Internal response to childhood indulgence
  3. The result of the “Progression of Fools”
  4. A consequence of the “sins of the fathers”
  5. Cultural-driven narcissism

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These causes are likely interconnected in many cases.  Let’s look at each of the five in a bit more detail.

Continue reading

How Much God Wants to Bless You – By John Piper

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“The Lord will again take delight in prospering you.” (Deuteronomy 30:9)

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“God does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. He does not wait for us to come to him. He seeks us out, because it is his pleasure to do us good. God is not waiting for us; he is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”

“God loves to show mercy. Let me say it again. God loves to show mercy. He is not hesitant or indecisive or tentative in his desires to do good to his people. His anger must be released by a stiff safety lock, but his mercy has a hair trigger. That’s what he meant when he came down on Mount Sinai and said to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). It’s what he meant when he said in Jeremiah 9:24, “I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

“God is never irritable or edgy. His anger never has a short fuse. Instead he is infinitely energetic with absolutely unbounded and unending enthusiasm for the fulfillment of his delights.

“This is hard for us to comprehend, because we have to sleep every day just to cope, not to mention thrive. Our emotions go up and down. We get bored and discouraged one day and feel hopeful and excited another.

“We are like little geysers that gurgle and sputter and pop erratically. But God is like a great Niagara Falls — you look at 186,000 tons of water crashing over the precipice every minute, and think: Surely this can’t keep going at this force year after year after year. Yet it does.

“That’s the way God is about doing us good. He never grows weary of it. It never gets boring to him. The Niagara of his grace has no end.”

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Devotional excerpted from John Piper’s book, “The Pleasures of God”

Why? A Series of In-Depth Studies On Suffering

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Having a solid theological foundation for God’s purposes for suffering (as well as a close relationship with Him) is key to successfully ultimately joyfully navigating the rough waters of life.  For those interested in digging more deeply into The Book on the subject of suffering, I call your attention to the following:

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Desiring God’s “Look At The Book” on “Suffering”

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(Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective)

 

 

 

Foundations – Boundlessly Good

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Psalm 31:19

19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!

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We have discussed in previous posts the importance of viewing our circumstances through the lens of God’s goodness.  The most comprehensive discussion of God’s goodness ever written was by Stephen Charnock in his book on the Existence and Attributes of God.   It is a difficult read due to its length (1100 pages) and language style (17th century Elizabethan English).   A modern version of Charnock’s chapter on the goodness of God has just been released, called Boundlessly Good:  God’s Motive For All That He Does.  It is shorter (print version is 130 pages, Kindle version is 236 pages) and much more readable due to modern sentence structures, etc.

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boundlessly-good-book-cover

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If you truly want to begin to understand the “why’s”, I would encourage you to look at this book.  It has been a life-changer for me.

Narcissism and The Progression of Fools – Continued

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In part 1 of “Narcissism and the Progression of Fools” we discussed the basic sequence of how a person can progressively harden their hearts as they wander away from God’s path.   A scoffer (one of the Biblical terms for a narcissist), is one stop along that path.

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For your further study, following is a list of all the verses which include the Hebrew words which were used in the previous post.  I have made a rough attempt at grouping them by subject matter in order to make it easier to digest the large number of verses, but the groupings and their headings are simply a guide.  I encourage you to study them for yourselves.

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Continue reading

Narcissism and The Progression of Fools – Introduction

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We have until now focused this biblical study of what the secular world calls “narcissism” primarily on the term “scoffer”, as one of the labels applied to those with insolent pride – the Biblical analog to the secular term.

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Proverbs 21:24

24 “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names,
Who acts with insolent pride.

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While not specifically called by the English term “fool”, the scoffer is part of a progression of foolishness described in Proverbs, starting with the “simple fool” (or “naive”), and moving all the way to the “committed fool”.  Each is a progressively greater degree of turning away from God’s wisdom, and walking an increasingly proud and self-seeking path which is independent from God.   Pride is a primary root to this self-seeking path independent from God, with increasing insolence up to the level of “insolent pride” (aka “scoffer”) and beyond.   Knowing this progression is helpful in identifying at least one of the ways in which someone can become a narcissist.

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The progression is as follows:

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(Types of Fool)     naive  ->  perverse ->  scoffing  ->   stubborn ->   committed

(Hebrew word)     pthiy  ->     ewil       ->     luts       ->      kecil      ->      nabal Continue reading

Why God “Allows” N’s To Wreak Havoc – To Build Our Capacity For Love

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1 Timothy 1:5

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

In the middle of our struggles with the N in our lives, we are typically focused on simply surviving the situation.  It seems incredible to think in terms of thriving.  And even more incredible to think in terms of moving past bitterness toward becoming a more loving person ourselves – not just toward the N, but people in general.
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However, God in His goodness toward us is intending to use our struggle to actually build in us a greater capability and capacity for love.  As heaven is a world of love, this capacity for love is not just for this world, but also for the one to come (heaven).   A greater capacity for love is not equivalent to being more of a doormat for your N, but is instead a broad-based foundation for a more meaningful and fruitful life in all its aspects.

Continue reading

It’s Not NPD, It’s A Heart Issue

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1 John 2:16

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

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According to I John 2:16, ultimately all “sin issues” that people have (“all that is in the world”) can be boiled down to one of three root causes

  1. Lust / sexual immorality (“the lust of the flesh”)
  2. The desire for things (“the lust of the eyes”)
  3. Pride and the desire to exalt oneself (“the boastful pride of life”).

It could also be a combination of one or more as illustrated by the Pharisees’ taking actions to fulfill desires (“lust of the eyes”) that they then covered up so that they would not look bad (“boastful pride of life”). Continue reading

Dealing With The Dread of Getting Through Another Day

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Matthew 6:34

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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Many of you may think “how am I going to get through this one more day”?  Or possibly living in dread of an event coming up that you are pretty sure your N is going to spoil.  Or something similar.

There’s another way to look at it.  If you look at this through the lens of God’s goodness (i.e. – everything that happens to you is good – it is just a matter of HOW it is good), and if you believe that God’s grace is fully sufficient for every need and that He will provide it as it’s needed – then you can view the impending possible difficulty as an opportunity for God to show Himself strong on your behalf – either through working to shield you, or to give you the measure of internal grace needed to experience joy in the midst of trouble.  In other words, rather than dreading it, you could look forward with anticipation to seeing God work on your behalf.

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2 Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His……

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2 Corinthians 12:9

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

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But as Jesus taught His disciples to pray…..

Matthew 6:11

11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.

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……He does not give us tomorrow’s provision today, He will give that tomorrow – and give today’s provision today, as it is needed.  This gives us the opportunity to rely on Him, to trust Him, to need Him just a little bit more.  And that daily need for Him further builds our relationship with Him.

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John Piper has a very helpful illustration in his book “Future Grace“.  Piper said to picture God’s promise that His provision of grace will be there when needed like a river flowing toward the edge of a waterfall.  The river illustrates the grace coming to us in the future, and the edge of the waterfall is “today” or “this minute”.  God is promising the river of grace to continue to flow toward us, while we experience this moment’s grace at the edge of the waterfall.  The river of grace continuing to flow can give us peace today that the grace needed tomorrow will be there tomorrow.  Therefore, we can simply focus on applying His grace at this moment, and trust Him for future moments.

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Moving-picture-Niagara-Fall-waterfall-animated-gif

 

Part of our peace today that grace will be there tomorrow is the anticipation of the opportunity to learn and grow, and to see God act (in big or little ways) on our behalf.  While for some, the particular trial may not last very long, for others it may last a lifetime.  But we can trust that God has His loving purposes in either case, and that the lesson of trusting Him today for the grace needed tomorrow will carry us throughout our entire lives.

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

Why God “Allows” N’s To Wreak Havoc – To Motivate Us To Seek The Ultimate Answer

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2 Samuel 22:7 / Psalm 18:6 (the same verse in 2 places)

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

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Psalm 34:4-6

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

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When things are going “well”, our natural inclination is to forget God, to not think that we need Him.  We naturally tend to take His goodness for granted.  An analogy would be teenagers that simply assume that their parents’ housing, food, access to a car, etc  will be there, without really having an interest in spending time with their parents – they just use their parents’ stuff to have a good time, without caring much about their relationship with their parents. Continue reading

Why God “Allows” N’s to Wreak Havoc – Using Them As Pre-Emptive Constraints

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2 Corinthians 12:7

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

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Sometimes, God uses His tools not for “corrective” or “refining” purposes, but for pre-emptive purposes.  In I Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul had done nothing wrong.  The “messenger of satan” was only for the purpose of preventing Paul from exalting himself due to his extraordinary experience.  We as normal humans tend to get puffed up at the slightest “success” we experience – just think of how puffed up we would be if we had had an experience that was many multiples higher than anyone else had ever had.

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Paul needed the revelations that God gave him as part of his ministry preparation, but he also needed to maintain humility for his ministry.  So, God gave Paul the revelations, but also provided via satan a pre-emptive means for staying humble – not out of spite, or meanness, but for Paul’s good and God’s glory. Continue reading

Narcissist Traits – They Contradict Themselves

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Luke 6:45

45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

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We read in Psalms 5:9 of a narcissist (aka one with insolent pride*), that “there is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself.”   And we read in secular sources (and have experienced) that narcissists can say something in one sentence, and contradict themselves in the next sentence (or even in the very same sentence).  It seems crazy when they do this – they seem crazy when they do this – and they have no clue that they are even doing it.  What’s going on?  

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Ultimately, as Luke 6:45 indicates, it is our heart that drives our words and actions. Continue reading

Why God “Allows” Narcissists To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – Viewing Our Situation Through The Lens of God’s Goodness

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Psalm 31:19

19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!

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[See here for the road map for this discussion on why God allows narcissists to wreak havoc]

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Matthew 7:11

11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

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Lamentations 3:22-25

22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.

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Since

  1. God’s purposes, plans, and providences in our lives ultimately flow out of his divine nature, and since
  2. His divine nature includes being completely wise, good, loving, and just (among many other things), and since
  3. He has the power to implement what He decides, and the ability to use evil for accomplishing good

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Then, we can safely assume that everything that comes our way is not just allowed, but designed by God for our good.  So, rather than seeing things that happen to us as either “good” or “bad”, we can safely view everything that happens to us as “good”.  The only question is “how is God being good to us in this particular situation”?

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That is what we intend to explore in the next phase of this discussion on why God allows Narcissists to wreak havoc.  The intent is to  move from “why is God doing this to me?” and “how do I escape this?” to “how is God intending this bad situation for my good?” and “how do I wisely deal with it?”.  And, ultimately, to trust Him even when we cannot figure out what He is doing. Continue reading

Why God Allows N’s To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – “You Meant It For Evil, But God Meant It For Good”

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Genesis 50:20

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

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This was an incredible statement by Joseph to his brothers many years after they had sold him to slave traders – the start of a series of seemingly very bad things that Joseph had experienced at the hands of others.  He then went from being a slave to getting thrown into prison.  And even when he got out of prison he was stuck in a country not his own.  He was sold at age 17, and got out of prison at age 30 – 40 percent of a young life that was permanently altered in the process.

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It wasn’t until well over 10 years after getting out of prison that Joseph said these words to his brothers.  During the 13 years that he was a slave and in prison we do not know what he was thinking and feeling – it could easily have been a combination of things – wrestling with the situation he was in, occasional anger at his brothers, while also trusting God in the midst of his difficulties*.  We do know that he acted honorably and faithfully during those 13 years (Genesis 39).  We also know that God took care of Joseph even in his difficulties.  And we know that somehow during that time, God gave Joseph the understanding that HE was ultimately controlling things for ultimate good.

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The point for us is that more than God allowing evil, and more than God making good out of evil (“when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”), God planned for the evil actions to be used for good – “God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20).

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The difficult to accept, but important to understand point, is that God may be using your narcissist for good.  Yes, we need to exercise practical wisdom in dealing with them.  And yes, there are times to avoid them (see here, here, here, here, and here).  And it certainly is not easy.  But, the fact that they are in our lives is not random, but somehow designed by God for our good.  This may be a difficult pill to swallow, especially when you may have experienced a lot of pain at the hand of your narcissist.  But taking this more constructive approach to how we view the situation can be a big step in moving toward real and lasting healing, and gaining victory over the situation.

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God using evil for good is one of the most difficult questions out there, but it must be addressed if we hope to get to the bottom of things.  And this is one of the handful of questions that people tend to choke on in their search for God.

God is much wiser (and more loving) than we are.  So we must approach this question from the viewpoint that God knows what He is doing, and that evil fits in with His plan of love.

We will explore how God might be using them for good in the next few blog posts.

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For those of you wanting to dig deeper into this subject, here are some additional resources:

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From Randy Alcorn

There Is No Pointless Suffering

If God Is Good:  Faith In The Midst Of Suffering and Evil

From the Blue Letter Bible

The Problem Of Evil

From Desiring God

Call That Love by Jonathan Parnell

Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained That Evil Be  by John Piper

John Piper on Man’s Sin and God’s Sovereignty

Seven Things The Bible Says About Evil  by Johnathan Bowers

For Your Joy   by John Piper

Can A Good God Bring Pain  by Dave Zuleger

From Grace To You (John MacArthur)

Joseph:  Because God Meant It For Good

From Tim Keller

With All This Suffering, How Could There Be A God?

 

 

 

 

Why God Allows Narcissists To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – God’s Providence

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Psalm 37:23-24

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.

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 [Please see here for the road map of the discussion on Why God Allows N’s To Wreak Havoc]

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We discussed here about God’s Plan For A Purpose of Love.  The next question is whether that “big picture” plan for a purpose of love also includes a detailed plan for individuals?  Is God actually in fact orchestrating everything in our lives according to a plan – even the little details of our lives, and even our difficulties with our Narcissist?

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The Bible indicates that God is indeed intricately involved in the course of our lives……

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Proverbs 16:9

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

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..and knows every detail…….

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Luke 12:6-7

Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

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 Psalm 139

139 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all……..

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13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

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..and is thinking about us constantly (10 trillion times per second)

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Psalm 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

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Alistair Begg has some good introductory thoughts about this subject, as well as a clear example of how God orchestrated many details in saving a person (Mordecai) and a group of people (the Jews) from the hands of a Narcissist (Haman) – discussed in the Old Testament book of Esther.  These clips may be a little long for the YouTube generation, but its worth a look.   You will enjoy listening to his practical perspective, as well as his humor and his Scottish accent.

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We can be sure that God is intimately involved in the details of our lives, orchestrating everything – even the “bad” things – for ultimate good.

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Psalm 23

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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  • Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here

 

Be Loved, To Love

We Love Because He First Loved Us

Boundlessly Good

God's Motive For All That He Does