5 Ways to Humble Yourself Now

 

Humility (NOUN) The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10

Recently I was writing a piece on humility, and immediately the Lord went to work on me. You need to practice it yourself.

Ugh.

So, off I went to do even more research on the practice of being humble. Here are some ways to humble yourself right now. I hope they are helpful.

Meditate on the greatness of God. When we truly submit to the One Who Is All That Is Holy, we realize that everything about us is from him and we have no control over anything in this world.

Be gracious. Ephesians 4:29 says, ” Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Is what you say building others up, or do you spend a lot of time in putdowns and gossip? Make a decision to only say things that will build others up.

Serve. Whenever you serve anyone in any way, you are building up the kingdom of God. Try to find someone every day that you can serve. This could be anything from bringing a cup of coffee to providing money to someone in need. You might find a senior who needs a ride someplace. Better yet, find a way to serve in secret, and never let anyone know!

Submit to all authority. This is difficult in today’s world, because we believe strongly in individualism. But we have many authorities in our lives – our pastor, teachers, and superiors on the job.

 Create a lowly place. Remember when Jesus said that if you go to your friend’ s table, you should sit in the lowest place of importance? Often, what we strive for is recognition when we need to strive for is honoring others. Look for the lowly place, and go there.

Pride comes to us naturally, and yet your mother probably always told you that pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). It is only by living as a conduit for God’s service that we become humble. Commit yourself today

For further reading: 1 Peter 3:8 – 17, James 4.

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What is Holiness?

A group I participate in is slowly working our way through an inductive study of Romans; we’re in chapter one. Recently we came to these verses:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23, NIV)

Images. We should never allow them, the pastor said. If we allow them, we are allowing the spirits behind them.

I don’t think they always have to be connected with a spirit, someone else said. Sometimes they’re just for decoration.

This led to a lot of talk and not much of a resolution, so I want to delve in more deeply.

Let’s say I have a small Buddha in my garden “just for decoration.” You come to visit me because you want to talk about Christianity, and while you’re there you see my garden with the Buddha. What will that say to you about my Christian walk?

Won’t it make you wonder?

Wouldn’t it make you say “If it’s okay with her, it’s okay with me”?

We are called to walk in holiness.

And then….what if you begin to study the ‘religion’ behind the statue? And then….what if you become a Buddhist? Now my statue has become the vehicle that led you to Buddhism. Now my unholy walk has caused you, my fellow Christian, to stumble.

Now is it still okay?

There’s a word for avoiding statues and idol-symbols. It’s aniconism.

Christians have only a very early history of that. In Moses’ time, for example, having a statue of a bird would have represented paganism. Nowadays, the bird has no specific religious reference (that I know of). Would I have a bird statue? Yes. I actually have a squirrel and a dog statue.

I stayed at a retreat center once that had an African mask glued to the front of my lamp shade. Now, I could –and did—put small statues away, and plaques with unchristian sayings. But you can’t fit a lampshade into a drawer. I prayed about it and tried to leave it alone, but finally at bedtime I twisted the shade so the little mask could look out the window, away from me.

Paranoid? No. but, in my mind, no need to invite anything unholy into my spiritual retreat.

If we start becoming paranoid about pagan practices, then we cut out many of the various customs we consider our own, customs like celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25 and giving flowers at funerals. I don’t think paranoia is the answer. I think that customs we’ve already had in place for years are acceptable.

So the question becomes a matter of where to draw the line. After much deliberation and searching, I will give you my 2 cents’ worth.

Here’s the thing. We are called to walk in holiness. Holiness means avoiding even the appearance of evil. Holiness means emulating Jesus. Most of all, holiness means being “set apart.” It is in being set apart that we are able to fulfill our specific task assigned by our Maker.

God expects nothing less than our best; inferior gifts are not acceptable (Malachi 1:13-14). We are told to purify ourselves out of reverence to God.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.     (2 Corinthians 7:1)

To be holy, we must spend time in the scriptures learning what holiness is. As we learn, we will grow toward a better example of a holy human. For me at this time, holiness means I won’t have a Buddha, I won’t put cutesy sayings on my Facebook wall that contain double entendres, profanity, or references to ‘other’ false gods. I will stand apart as I was created to do.

What does holiness mean to you?

 

Bible Study – End of Week 1

This is the end of week 1/Beginning of week 2 discussion for Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry.

Good morning! How is the study going — any questions? Please post a reply even if you do not have questions, so I know you’re there.

What did you learn from Chapter 1? Did something sneak up on you, something you didn’t consider a time-stealer or time waster before? I hope you had the chance to clear some time this past week and spend time sitting in front of the Lord.

Please remember the following points, all found in chapter 1:

* It isn’t the ‘thing’ that is bad — it’s our attitude toward it

* When we allow false gods to take over, the honor due to God and God only is given away to a person, place or thing in His creation.

* When these things block us and cause chaos, Satan wins through the use of our favorite toys.

Chapter 2 is about drifting. This isn’t an idol, of course, but drifting away from God/ your Christian walk can lead to false gods, and that’s why I’ve included it right up front. Our walk is never stagnant, we are either moving toward God or away from Him.

Please memorize Hebrews 2:1 (choose your version). Please be sure to do the homework.

Love you much! I will make a video, it will be up by Monday.

Father God, I ask you to bless each of these lovely people. Bring them to see with your eyes the whole of their lives; not to hurt them, Father, but to help them come closer to you. Please wrap your arms around each of them this week.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Book Review – One Thing: How to Keep your Faith in a World of Chaos

I’m a voracious reader. I read constantly, and many of those books fall in the Christian Living category. So I’ve decided to write book reviews more regularly, in hopes that it will help my readers decide whether they want to read them. Or not—maybe I’ll save you money by helping you decide not to read it!

I’ll be reviewing new and old works; it isn’t uncommon for me to order something with a copyright date of 1987 if I think it is interesting. I also frequent used book aisles, and I love reading classic works. If you’d like to see a review of a particular book, drop me a line; I’ve probably read it.

Today’s review is on One Thing: How to Keep your Faith in a World of Chaos by Chuck and Pamela Pierce

There are 13 chapters. Each chapter revolves around one principle for living a better life. Every one of those principles is God-centered, and the entire book is full of anecdotes from their lives that serve to give the reader ‘nuggets’ to use in their own experience.

In chapter one, “Letting Go: Trusting God to be an Excellent Father,” Pamela shares a lot of their struggle with pregnancy and adoption. This helps the reader get to know a little bit about the couple and how strong their faith is.

Chapter 2 is called ”Chaos versus Simplicity: Understanding How to Function in Faith.” Through more of their own trials, we see how we can live by faith. One particularly transparent moment is when they had a discussion over the raising of hands in worship—something my own husband and I have discussed. “I recognized later that the enemy was trying to distract me from what God was about to do, but as we drove along the interstate highway I just wanted to pick a fight,” Pam admits.

Chuck (who did not believe in raising hands, in general) said, “You get desperate enough in all of your circumstances and you will raise your hands, stand on your head, or do whatever, to sense the lord’s presence.”

Can’t we all relate to that?

Chapter 3 “Don’t Be So Complex! Just Do the One Thing He Tells You” is relevant to every believer. On page 35 it says,

‘Many things around us exist to conform us into a way of thinking that negates simple faith and action. Reality is something not imagined or pretended, but the quality of something being true to life.’

I love this. It made me think about what the things are that exist merely to conform us. Consider all the ads that hit us from every side: TV commercials, half the daily newspaper, and ads on every side as well as popping up on the computer. We can’t get away from them.

Chapter 4 is “Lost and Found: Recovering Hidden Treasures” and is very short. It’s about finding lost items through God’s perfect timing.

Chapter 5 is “Out of the Mouth of Babes: How Faith can become Simple”. Pierce explains that faith comes through hearing God, and we tend not to do so because of the chaos in our lives. He shares many stories demonstrating the way we can hear God’s voice is we listen correctly. He relates how the Lord spoke to his heart and said, “Your borders are too narrow. But I can cross your borders, I can bring the supply that’s needed.”

Chapter 6, “Her Name is Maggie: The Power of Adoption” begins with a story about adopting a dog. It goes on to explain how God knows your name, your capabilities, and where you should be positioned.

Chapter 7 is “Please Pass the Biscuits: Finding Your Way Through Discipline.” It is a heartrending story of Pamela’s early life as her family moved from one place to the next, then she was sent to live with an aunt and uncle who eventually adopted her and her sister.  Pamela describes herself as a child who was not easy to love, but who learned it is valuable to do one thing well. She wisely comments that her adoption by this family made it easier to experience spiritual adoption later.

Chapters 8, 9 and 10 are longer and “meatier.” They could have stood alone as a book. They detail how to find security and, places of refuge, and how to adapt to change.

Chapter 11, “Pills and Bills,” discusses being in debt, freedom from debt, poverty, and giving. Chuck gives several points about giving, like “we give when we worship” and “we give when we respond to authority with generosity and blessing.”

Chapter 12 is about boundaries and our futures, and 13 reminds us not to repeat old patterns over and over. “The enemy,” Chuck says, “has another plan: to get us going in cycles.”

There are many helpful bulleted lists and helpful hints in the book besides the many faith-filled anecdotes. It is not a book of theology, but if you enjoy reading about others go through or if you want to read about how Christianity looks when the world isn’t perfect, read the book. Three butterflies.

 

Pre-study Comments and Questions

Welcome to the 6-week Bible study, Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry! Have you started reading the book yet? You can get an ebook or the paperback here. I will  work from the perspective that you haven’t started reading yet. It’s really important before we start the deep work on our hearts that we realize what idols/time-stealers are. Basically they are wants that become misshapen. They can be good things to start, but they get distorted and that’s when they become bad things. Example: you start going online to look for friends because you feel lonely in the evenings. Six months later you are on there non-stop. A year into it you’ve started an online emotional affair, and your spouse is complaining that he never gets to spend time with you any more. Now it’s an idol. The worst part about idols is we don’t realize we have them. Because of that, many people who need this study won’t bother with it.

My working definition is: “Anything that repeatedly gets between you and your worship of God.” Notice repeatedly! Sometimes people ask if they can do an activity one time, say, miss church to visit family out of town. That’s not an idol – it doesn’t repeat. So of course you can. 🙂

Please begin reading Chapter 1. There are 5 days in each chapter; that gives you Sunday off plus one other day, perhaps you are here on Thursdays so you use that as your other no-homework day. The most difficult homework you’ll have in the entire 6 weeks is at the end of Chapter 1, so be sure to allow extra time for that one.

Here’s your video link.The password to watch it is seven.

I’ll be here every Thursday at this time beginning today, but you read/comment as you have time.

Prayer: Father God, I pray that you will use this study as it is intended, to soften and clean each heart so that we can love and represent you better. Help us to hear what it is you are saying throughout the study. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Bible Study Starts This Week

It’s official — I’ll be leading Bible study both here on my blog and on Goodreads.com.

If I told you it would help you communicate with God better, would you come?

If you knew you’d be better for it afterward, would you commit?

If your feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness and shame changed to radiant hope, peace, confidence and even joy… would you want that?

The Bible Study is Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry. It’s 6 weeks in length, although we may choose, as a group, to add a 7th week.

There are several reasons for moving over from Facebook… mostly, though, people weren’t seeing the posts. Here I feel like I have more control. Please watch the video intro.

Thanks for joining me in this adventure!

A Big Announcement

Come Back to Jesus and Don't Bring your Blackberry

To all my faithful readers:

I’m happy to announce I’ll be leading my Bible Study, Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry online. I’ll do this at GoodReads (goodreads.com) on my author page. If you don’t have a GoodReads account, sign-up is quick and easy, I used my Google account and it simply connected. There’s a link in the right column if you are reading this on my blog page. Here is a direct link to the Book Club page.

“I find that the people who say they don’t need it turn out to be the ones who need it most“

I’ll also present it here on the blog as a duplication if you prefer; just let me know! I’m really excited because this will be my first time leading it online, except for the focus group that helped me correct it prior to publication; that group had several online participants.

The book is about how to clear out the unnecessary bits of your life so you have time to worship God better. I find that the people who say they don’t need it turn out to be the ones who need it most; they come up and thank me later. So, if you’re saying you don’t have time for it– perhaps this is exactly where you need to be?

You can get a copy of the book at Amazon or at your local bookstore. There are 2 versions: paperback and Kindle.

Also~ Another announcement. Some  readers subscribed through the RSS feed. Some subscribed another way and I’ve been inputting your emails manually. Just today I submitted them all to Feedburner so you can still get the posts via email, but you’ve received a subscription notice in your email. You need to click that to confirm the subscription. Trust me — Feedburner is a lot more reliable than me!

Til next time,

T.

Disagreements in the Church

I’m reading in 1 Corinthians this week.

Actually, it’s more than that. I am leading a group in a very brave Read The New Testament in 90 Days project—and I am behind.

I. Am. The Leader.

I’m behind.

Anyway. I can’t help it; I’m already there. So let’s move over to 1 Corinthians.

When this letter was written (somewhere around 56 BC) the city of Corinth was full of every sort of shameless, flagrant behavior. It was so horrid in fact that the phrase ‘to act the Corinthian’ – in Greek – meant “to practice fornication.”

Corinth was on a narrow isthmus between two seas; it served as a wealthy port center. Therefore, it had plenty of taverns. And a tiny, newly saved fledgling group of Christians had little say over what went on. Much like now.

So in the midst of all this, Paul visited Corinth and ended up staying 18 months. After that some mail was exchanged between him and the new church at Corinth, and he wrote the letter we call 1 Corinthians as a response to some of their questions.

Right up front, Paul addressed divisions within the church. Apparently the people were arguing. Perhaps some wanted to be led by a disciple who had actually been with Jesus. Perhaps some preferred Apollos’ way of preaching. Perhaps a new Tea Party had formed within the ranks.

Paul wasted no ink before diving into the fray. “Has Christ been divided?” He demanded (1 Cor. 1:13).

I love his in-your-face method. Nowadays in the church we see it, but don’t name it. We know it, but turn a blind eye. We live with it, like living with a favorite shoe that rubs the foot but is, nonetheless, a favorite so we put up with it.

Paul is not putting up with it.

Paul is having none of it. No division, no arguing, no classes, no I’m-better-because-I-was-baptized-by-(Cephas/Apollos/Paul/Christ).

“I thank God that I baptized none of you…that no man should say you were baptized in my name. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel.”

Paul knows his purpose. He has a clear, laser-sharp focus on what he was sent to do. Some might say baptism was a part of it; he says no. He knows his job is only to preach.

Today, the divisions are about carpet color, music style, who should be a deacon, etc. Yet a division is a division, and by focusing on those we are losing our laser focus. We forget what we were called for, to whom we were called, and give those up in favor of … well, let’s read on.

Then he went on to lecture them about the base, worldly things that they probably…held dear. Whoops.

One of the things esteemed in Corinth was knowledge. The learned man, the one who was clever and smart; not that their group was full of this sort of man, but they would have admired them. This, Paul says, is the very antithesis of God’s wisdom:

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. God has chosen the foolish thing of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that he might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.” * 1 Corinthians, parts of 1:17-31. Read in its entirety here.

Lest we get lost in that message, let’s just say that God uses those who we would normally consider weak, unimportant or even foolish to deliver his message. Paul then summarizes it beautifully in 2:2 :

”For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

As we think of all the things we do and are and want, I wonder if we could say the same? Could I say “I know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

Could you…

What if we…

Here’s another version:

“ I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.” *The Message

What if I took this as my mantra, and all I said or did to another – especially someone with whom I am apt to disagree, or argue—what if all was based on that one statement.

Jesus.

Jesus crucified.

Jesus and who he is.

Not:

whoyouare / whoIam

I’m better

I’m smarter

I’m more important.

Not: doggone it let me talk! I have something to say.

Not even: look at me.

Just this:

Look at Jesus.

Look at him.

See his crucifixion?

See his love?

What was I going to argue about, again? I seem to have forgotten.