Category Archives: Refined by the Word

That elusive characteristic of humility <3

I am not even going to start off with some kind of comment about the weather because seriously….what is up with it??

So we will move along to the musing du jour for your Thursday inbox.

We ended our pre-Easter series at FCC on the book of Mark with a lesson on how Christ modeled for us true humility in His teachings and by His example.

He led the charge on servant-leadership and putting others first while maintaining an appropriate concept of His identity and authority with righteous perspective. 

He set aside all that was due Him in order to become like us, and while we often attribute this to His love FOR us, it is clear He did so in obedience and submission to His Father. 

Something we struggle with, or at least I know I do. 

Tricky for us humans is the whole humility thing. 

You know what they say about it, right? As soon as you start thinking maybe you have humility down…well, there you go…you most likely are back in the tar pit of pride. 

Often it is easier to identify humility by observing our fellow sojourners and travelers on this journey. 

However, even there we can get it skewed as we tend to equate humility with those who are less affluent or more polite; and the whole thing can get even more murky in the waters of political correctness.

First off, wealth and status are not the deal breakers for the humble. I once heard someone describe their parents as having been “rather proud of their humble lifestyle.” I have also seen people who are over-the-top gracious but, in truth, quite filled with an abundance of pride over this quality in themselves.

I think part of it is our lack of understanding of Christ’s humility. 

It was not denying His identity, power and status in the universe; but rather not demanding all the rights, privileges and honor due Him because of it. 

For me, I believe my search to imitate His example is found in examining my reaction in every day settings where I notice a kind of “Hey! Wait a minute!….How come I am being treated this way???” attitude cropping up. 

It is recognizing that we live in a world where hyper-defensiveness toward being offended is reaching epidemic proportions. 

Even the passing of a respected and well-loved leader can spark a barrage of hateful rhetoric as sides are formed and mud slings in every direction.

A spirit of offense is a red flag of pride and I know this because the Cross of Christ offends. It represents the ultimate act of humility. 

Webster defines humility as “not proud or haughty, not arrogant or assertive; reflecting, expressing or offering in a spirit of deference or submission.”

God defines it this way…

Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ, who though he was God did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as to actually die a criminal’s death on a cross.     Philippians 2: 5-8 The Living Bible 

So I ask myself today…how is my attitude?

Is it easily offended or does it willingly take up the offense of the Cross of Christ?

Be blessed today as you ponder that question for yourself….remember…He did all the work for us, we simply come humbly before Him and receive it <3

Fools rush in…

Good morning <3

I am in the book of Proverbs now as my readings continue through the Chronological Bible.

This version of Scripture lumps the sayings of Solomon and such into themes and one of the sections today was on “rashness.”

It addresses the folly of rushing into a setting and airing opinions and assessments without the recommended counting to ten…or a hundred…or a thousand.

Well, actually it recommends more taking our rants and vents to God FIRST before we march into the boardroom or the kitchen or the committee meeting and sound off about what we see as needing correction.

I think we see this attitude prevailing from our media, both social and news related, more and more.

A kind of in-your-face confrontational approach to calling out what is perceived as unrighteousness.

And have mercy…often it is not based on a standard of truth, but rather on some popular opinion or movement.

As Christ-followers, we can see this so clearly in worldly settings, but are we as sensitive to it within the Body of Christ?

When something is being done within the context of our church and church family, are we acting more like the world as we seek to confront it? (And I am NOT talking about issues of blatant sin and wrong-doing that can happen within a church, so don’t take your mind down that rabbit trail!)

Are we responding with a  Holy Spirit-led/Holy Spirit-filled speaking out? Or with an almost arrogant plowing down of anyone and everyone who does not agree with us approach?

Let’s look at Proverbs for a minute..

What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?    Proverbs 25:8

This one speaks to me of how we can see things that look like wrong-doing, but we may not have all the information and facts. Sometimes we are jumping to conclusions and if we do not pause a moment to take in the whole picture, the truth revealed once we have pressed our pre-determined verdict on someone or some situation could prove rather embarrassing.

A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless. Proverbs 14:16,17

Here we see two characteristics of a wise person. This one fears the LORD and steers clear of evil.

It’s both of these which allow the wise person to recognize something that looks to be wrong, and yet turns to the sovereignty of the LORD first before reacting.

If we confront wrong-doing with a knee-jerk reaction we will basically be acting like a…well…a jerk.

One more….

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.  Proverbs 19:11

This one reminds me that when I get hot and bothered about something, it is wise to take it to the Lord first in prayer and conversation.

Key word being conversation, because as I talk to Him about what is troubling me in a situation; I also need to listen to His side.

Because sometimes it is not so much an offense to His Righteousness that is the issue.

Often, as I bring my complaint before Him, I realize it is, in fact, my own indignation over what I perceive to be the violation of my “rights” in a situation that has me riled up.

In our town, we have an intersection that is currently holding the record for accidents due to people running red lights.

A dear friend of ours just recently, thanks be to God, escaped unharmed physically from such an incident…yet his truck, not so much.

But many other intersections here in town are competing to become #1, as drivers increasingly seem to consider a yellow light as an indicator to rev the engine and barrel on through.

Other cars follow suit and the results can be devastating.

We, who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ,do not want to be…physically, emotionally or spiritually…like those who see a warning as an invitation to blast forward.

We want to see the warning signs of wrong-doing as God’s discernment kicking in and use these as opportunities to slow down, get serious in prayer…and then proceed with His leading.

Be blessed today.

Be pro-active to seek wise decisions at all the intersections you will face today.

Remember always…you are loved and led and held by GRACE <3

 

When a word just keeps popping up…

On Sunday our class finished the last week of the Mark series that our whole church did for Lent.

We looked at the bold request of James and John, along with their mother, to be seated at the right and left of Jesus.

The focus of the sermon and lesson for this final week was the way we struggle with humility and how Jesus modeled it so well for us.

In the material research I found some quotes on humility and one of them was from Mother Teresa.

She had a list of ways we can seek to live more humbly and for fun I am including them….

“These are the few ways we can practice humility:

  • to speak as little as possible of one’s self
  • to mind one’s own business
  • not to want to manage other people’s affairs
  • to avoid curiosity
  • to accept contradictions and correction cheerfully
  • to pass over the mistakes of others
  • to accept insults and injuries
  • to accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked
  • to be kind and gentle even under provocation
  • never to stand on one’s dignity
  • to choose always the hardest”
  • From The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living by Mother Teresa

As I pondered these in preparation to teach; and then later as we looked over them together as a group, the one that perplexed me was the suggestion to avoid curiosity.

Because…well…me and google go together like P.B. and J.

Puzzling over it I decided maybe “curiosity” goes beyond just seeking a piece of information in order to learn and gain knowledge.

I headed over to the dictionary and found some meanings (see what I mean about me and being curious???? Sorry Mother T….I am a work in progress….)

I found that while the root word of curious is “inquisitive” there are also twists that are added as we see how it is defined in modern language such as what the author would be referring to.

It can move into a level of wanting to know more about others concerns than is necessary.

Think of …. nosiness.

Or desire to have ALL the information … sort of a …. know-it-all kind of person.

And I would guess that this, like all things humble, is more of a heart issue than a head thing.

This gave me ample material to ponder when lo and behold on late Sunday afternoon a commercial popped up between rounds of the Masters Tournament featuring an expensive car racing down a road with an imposing voice lauding …. yes…

“Curiosity.”

Well, I am sure we all know what I did the very next morning, right?

Yes,of course!

I googled the commercial on YouTube.

And here is the text of it…

“Curious…is an unreachable destination.  Curious…has no comfort zone. Curious…rests on no laurels. Curious…perpetually scratches at doors. Curious…picks at locks. Curious…never stops. To Curious…good enough is never enough. Curious…makes us who we are.”   *Mercedes-AMG Commercial – “Curious Is Incurable” YouTube

Ok.

Wow.

So I look back at the words of Mother Teresa about humility and I think of the example of Christ.

And then I read the words of the voice of our culture and with the first words, I find my heart gently drawing towards the Father and the words of the second making my heart race in an unhealthy manner and the choice is so easy.

So clear.

He came to offer us a peace that the world cannot offer.

Let us choose faithfully to follow His teachings even as we minister and love and move in a world where scratching at doors and picking locks and good enough is never enough is the norm.

We are set apart and different and sometimes we feel weird and out of step.

Can I encourage you all today?

THAT is a good thing <3

Be blessed. Be you. BE HIS! <3

 

 

TGIF…and that’s a wrap <3

They say the Christian walk is a marathon not a sprint and if you have hung with me through this series, I am hearing a rousing AMEN!! coming through the atmosphere.

I have called you to go deeper still into the wounds and the healing.

It’s a common theme out there, I have noticed …must be a lot of hurting people who are desiring to heal well.

I just got a devotion in my email this past week that had this quote from Andy Stanley about grace and how it relates to our topic Deep Healing….

Grace.    

It’s what I crave most when my guilt is exposed. The very thing I’m hesitant to extend when I’m confronted with the guilt of others — especially when their guilt has robbed me of something I consider valuable.   Faithgateway.com    The Story of Grace    Andy Stanley             Feb. 6, 2017

It’s what we have been talking about, isn’t it?

Forgiveness..receiving mercy and grace…extending mercy and grace…the cycle that we work through as God heals us down in the depths of our pain and loss.

We can trust Him when we can’t trust others or even ourselves.

I want to close this series with a beautiful quote I got from A. W. Tozer’s book Tozer on the Almighty God.

He uses a quote from Rev. Dr. Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) who would cry out in “serious and painful trials”…

“Praise God for the hammer, the file and the furnace”

Tozer expounds on these for the devotionals that cover October 14, 15 and 16 in this book.

He speaks of how the hammer is a useful tool, but the nail must view it as harsh and cruel.

Strike after strife falls upon the nail as forceful blows drive it deeper into the surface.

He describes the nail’s view of the hammer to be “…an opponent, a brutal, merciless enemy who lives to pound it into submission, to beat it down out of sight and clinch it into place.”

He acknowledges that while that is an apt description of the hammer….

“The nail forgets that both it and the hammer are the servants of the same workman. Let the nail remember that the hammer is held by the workman and all resentment toward it will disappear. The carpenter decides whose head shall be beaten next and what hammer shall be used in the beating. That is his sovereign right. When the nail has surrendered to the will of the workman and has gotten a little glimpse of his benign plans for its future it will yield to the hammer without complaint.”

Harsh language, and it goes without saying…but I WILL say it…this is not saying if someone is being physically or emotionally abused they must submit to the abuser!

This is saying that life//other’s sinful choices/our own errors in judgment will bring about times when we feel beat up…defeated…crushed.

And our first inclination will be to curse the circumstances and fight back or give up or give in to our human natures and the world’s systems of dealing with pain.

But as children of the Most High God…there is a better way.

Part of our inheritance is the gift of being one of His own and entitles us to surrender to the Creator who made us and sustains us in the MIDST of it all.

Our loving Father  is well aware of the pain we are enduring and yes, could have stopped the source, but for some reason unknown to us…He has allowed it.

And to acknowledge this is to comply with the hammer because we know it is simply the servant of the Master…as are we <3

And so we lift up to Him our brokenness and our sorrows, our grief and our pain, our sense of loss and our loss of joy…to God, who is Sovereign over us, over them, over yesterday, today and tomorrow.

To ask Him to show us how to move toward healing…and to be obedient to His directions as we simultaneously kneel before Him, lean on Him and yield to Him.

It has been a special blessing for me to walk through some of my stuff with you these past few days.

You all make wonderful travel companions on the Journey…

Have a blessed weekend and I’ll see you on Monday <3

 

Corralling those wild thoughts <3

We have moved to Page 2 and Item #3 of my brainstorming notes.

Which means we are a few points away from the conclusion of this series.

I would say it has been a good one…at least for me…and I know for some of you as well.

You have been troopers as I stomped on your toes with my own bandaged feet and I love you for it.

So today we tackle that battle of the mind that rages on even the best of days but can really throw a damper on the healing process.

As I look at my notes and my to do list before I leave for work (via the post office with a hefty stack of assorted mail that needs to be metered and paid for) and the clock…I have made an executive decision to forego well-written paragraphs and just give you the bullet points from my legal pad for this section.

You in?

Good

I am writing from my experience because not everyone is like me (can we all just shout hallelujah and high-five Jesus for that???)

So again, if you don’t relate to my wiring, maybe it will help you understand someone who is a hypersensitive, over-thinking, neurotically analyzing of every detail person such as yours truly.

Oh…you stayed…great…well, here we go…

1. It is imperative to corral my emotions when something shakes me deeply. Since I am pretty much the worst poker face person, I don’t fake “fine” very well. I am never the person, even on the BEST.DAY.EVER who answers “How are you?” with ….wait for it…and enthusiastic

GRRRRREEEEEAAAAATTTTTTTT!!!!!

I’m one of those who actually tells you how I am, in a thousand words or less.

So when I am experiencing a season of deep sorrow, I find it helpful to remember that I don’t have to share the details of what is going on with every single person or even one single person.

I can just say I’m doing okay and if they press me further with that concerned look and dreaded “Are you sure?”, I am not fibbing when I say Yep…I’m sure.

Because by faith, I am doing OK.

I am upright and breathing and God is doing a work in me.

I am passing through the waters and He is holding me up so I don’t drown. I am passing through the fire and it’s hotter than hell, but my clothes are not even going to smell like smoke.

That’s Isaiah 43:2 if you don’t recognize it.

So yes, by God’s grace and mercy. I am OK.

2. I also absolutely MUST put the kibosh on comparison.

Looking around at what others have never ever helps with the work God is doing in M.E.

This also means steering clear of social media on my more fragile days.

And I will speak into this to others here…if seeing sweethearts happily declaring their love on Valentine’s Day sends you into depression or a barren womb means those lovely tributes to Mothers and Fathers mid-May/June burn hot tears on your face or your family is scattered to the four winds and the “This is Us” pics of happy Thanksgiving gatherings is a slap in the face…YOU are the one who controls checking Facebook and Instagram. 

3. And finally this one I mentioned yesterday, but thoughts of how this friend or that person would do this grieving and healing so much better than I am.

So there’s my big three areas of thought life that I have to reign in so God can get me back in the land of the living.

And the only way to do it is to take those spinning and spiraling thoughts under control.

For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ. And we are ready to punish any disobedience, once your obedience has been confirmed.   2 Corinthians 10: 3-6   HCSB

Like you I always find this passage encouraging but difficult to apply.

So let’s meditate on it a bit and meet back here tomorrow for some practical application.

Deal?

I hope so.