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Posts Tagged ‘Humility’

 

 Antiques-Roadshow

 

“Do you have any idea how much your painting is worth?” asks the antiques dealer.

“No, not really,” the owner answers.

“At auction, this portrait would probably bring…(a bit of a pause)…$5,000 or more.

The owner gasps. “And to think I only paid $25.00 at a garage sale!”

Scenes such as this are quite frequent on the popular TV program, Antiques Roadshow.  It’s astonishing how valuable some common-looking items turn out to be.  But I can’t help feeling a bit sad for the previous owners, who had no idea the worth of their possessions.

There are some folks who see little worth in the teachings of Jesus.  To their way of thinking, his world view and expectations seemed upside down and backwards.

For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus highlighted attributes that the world does not value, yet God considers of great worth.  Meekness would be a prime example.

Part of the problem lies in a common misunderstanding of the attribute. People think a meek person as weak-willed, passive, and too nice for her own good.

Such thinking is far from the truth.

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Meekness includes:

  • Surrender to God
  • Trust and confidence in His ways and provision
  • Gentleness and humility with others
  • More concern for the interests of others than one’s own
  • Self-control, self-sacrifice, faith, patience, and forbearance
  • A gentle and soothing disposition

A weak-willed, passive person cannot demonstrate such traits.   Meekness requires strength of character; it is power under control.

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Imagine wild stallions running free across rolling hills.   Manes and tails undulate and flow in the wind, muscles strain beneath gleaming coats, hooves pound a rapid rhythm. Indeed, stallions in motion are a majestic sight. They exude power. But that power is useless to man unless it is harnessed and trained.

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That’s the picture of meekness–strength under control. Strength to do the right thing at the right time. It’s not a human personality trait; it’s a super-human God trait. And the more we know his Son and abide in him, the more we’ll demonstrate meekness.

What might that look like, day-to-day? First, there would be no:

  • Mean-spirited sarcasm and rudeness
  • Arrogant behavior
  • Concern for prestige
  • Over-sensitivity or defensiveness

 

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Instead, the beauty of meekness includes:

  • Quiet trusting in God to supply
  • Adherence to the Golden Rule
  • Love in action—caring, giving, helping
  • Gracious understanding and forgiveness

The world would be a different place if meekness were a more prevalent trait.

Some of you may recall the old tune, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Do you remember the next line? “And let it begin with me.”

Surely the same could be said for meekness. We can each be an example. As opportunities arise that require meekness, we can allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with his power, much as we fill our lungs with air. In fact, we can use that physical act of taking a deep breath as a reminder of “the breath of God” within us, providing everything we need for meekness: trust in God, self-control, compassion, kindness, and patience.

Meekness is so important to God, he included specific promises in scripture for those who demonstrate this trait:

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  • “I hear the desires of the meek. I strengthen their hearts” (Psalm 10:17, RSV).
  • “The meek shall…be satisfied” (Psalm 22:26, ERV).
  • “The meek will he guide in justice; And the meek will he teach his way” (Psalm 25:9, ASV).
  • “The meek will…enjoy great peace” (Psalm 37:11).
  • “The Lord lifts up the meek” (Psalm 147:6a).
  • “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord (Isaiah 29:19a, RSV).

Strength, satisfaction, guidance, peace, uplift, and fresh joy. Valuable blessings, don’t you think?

Let’s seize the day in meekness. Let’s partake in the adventure of living our lives upside down and backwards, Jesus’ way!

We will NOT be disappointed in the results.

(Art & photo credits:  www.dealtrackersf.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.kansas.com; http://www.pinterest.com;

 

 

 

 

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Steve came into the kitchen carrying a lovely rose, its dewy petals just beginning to open.  Delicate baby’s breath surrounded the bloom; emerald-green tissue and a red satin bow created a fitting frame.

He passed the rose to me with love in his eyes and a sweet smile on his face.

I took the rose and threw it on the floor.

What?! you say. How could you do such a thing?

The truth is, I didn’t. I made that up. Not the part about Steve bringing me roses. He has surprised me with flowers numerous times over the years. I made up the part about taking a rose from him and throwing it on the floor.

That would be terribly rude, wouldn’t it. But the scenario described above does provide an allegory for the way we sometimes accept verbal gifts–occasions when we’ve treated kind words as trash:

 

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“Who, me? Oh, no. Not really. So-and-So is much better at __________ than I am.”

“You liked what I said? You must not have been listening very carefully!”

“I can’t believe you actually liked it. I thought it was terrible.”

Compliments are like roses, offered in an effort to bring a smile, provide good cheer, express appreciation and encouragement. When we discount them, it’s as if we’re throwing these verbal gifts on the floor. The compliment-giver feels put down, awkward, and lacking in good taste.

You may be thinking: Wait a minute.  As Christians, aren’t we supposed to be humble? Accepting compliments seems so prideful.

Not if you view positive remarks as declarations of God’s glory, as it’s reflected through you. Not when you consider that denying sincere, truthful compliments detracts from God’s glory.

So how can Christians accept compliments with grace? Here are several possibilities:

thank-you

  1. Simply say “thank you” and give the glory–the credit–to God. He is the one who gave you the ability to accomplish the task for which you are being praised. Pass the compliment on to God.
  1. Consider the compliment as encouragement. God is at work in you and he’s using you to minister to others. Thank the person for their kind words, and praise God for the opportunity to be used for his purpose, in ways that bless others.
  1. God often uses his people as agents for his encouragement. It’s possible those kind words are coming straight from God’s heart to yours. Take joy in the blessing.
  1. A gracious “thank-you-so-much-for-your-kind-words” will prompt the compliment-giver to continue offering encouragement to others.   Wise King Solomon compared inspiring/supportive words to gold (Proverbs 25:11). That’s how valuable they are.

 

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  1. If others were involved in your achievement, be sure to give them credit. Sharing the glory will increase the pleasure of the compliment.
  1. Later, when the kind words come to mind again, whisper a prayer.  For example:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing my effort and touching that woman’s heart. What an honor to be used by you to minister to her.”

Turn compliments into praise and they won’t turn into pride.

 

(Photo & art credits:  www.flickr.com; http://www.handmaidcraftday.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.wimempowerment.org.)

 

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The drummer begins a snappy, energizing beat.

The guitarists add moving chords.

The keyboard player joins with a compelling melody and attention-grabbing harmony.

Then the leader of the band enthusiastically proclaims, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Please stand and join me as we praise and worship our awesome God!”

It’s a familiar scene for those who attend a contemporary or blended worship service.

Have you ever wondered why we are invited to praise and worship? Aren’t the two words just synonyms for each other?

That’s what I thought for a long time.   Then a worship leader explained that the upbeat praise songs we sing first are designed to help us focus on God instead of the many mind-distractions vying for attention.

After a time of praise, he said, we are more receptive to the quieter, more reverent songs of worship. He likened our musical journey to the movement of Bible time worshipers, from the outer courts of the temple to the inner court.

Since then, I’ve learned more insights into the difference between praise and worship. For example:

Praise is an expression of approval and admiration, exalting God for who he is. We praise him for his wonderful attributes, like love, wisdom, power, and holiness. He is certainly worthy of every word of praise we can offer (Psalm 18:3).

But we can also praise people for their attributes. Even the family dog earns praise for being a good boy or girl! Praise is relatively easy to give. It costs us nothing except a little thoughtfulness and a little time.

A close relative of praise is thanksgiving. Just as we praise God for who he is, we express gratitude for what he does.

Worship, on the other hand, is exclusive. God is the only One worthy of our worship (Luke 4:8).

The word, worship, comes to us from Old English: weorth (worth) and scipe (ship). When we express our awe, love, and respect to God, we are proclaiming his worth to us.

True worship also includes humility, honesty, and surrender (John 4:24; Psalm 119:7):

  • Humility as we recognize God’s supremacy,
  • Honesty as we confess our inadequacy and sin,
  • Surrender as we relinquish our wills to his all-wise control.

Worship also draws us closer to God (Psalm 145:18), which is not just for Sunday mornings. Worship (as well as praise and thanksgiving) is designed by God to permeate our every day lives.

It’s as if praise, worship, and thanksgiving are tributaries, streaming together to form one great river. Three becoming one. Not like a braid, with three plaits woven side-by-side but still separate entities. No–a blending together into a whole, the parts no longer distinguishable.

Praise from a worshipful heart—one that is characterized by humility, honesty, and surrender—is the most sincere.

Thanksgiving that celebrates God’s goodness in his actions and praises God’s greatness of character, is the most complete.

Worship that includes sincere praise and complete gratitude is the most beautiful.

 

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Every day, Lord, you manifest your greatness to me. May I be quick to offer you praise, thanksgiving, and worship, because you are worthy of no less. And thank you for the gift of worship, for the overwhelming privilege of basking in your glorious and holy Light.

 

(Photo credit:  www.blog.nextlevelworship.com.)

 

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41

“Oh no, Elena, you don’t want that,” I say to our one-year old granddaughter.  Obligingly she holds up to me a minuscule scrap of paper she’s found on the floor.  Thanks to much practice with Cheerios, her thumb and forefinger can pick up the tiniest items.

Elena and I are on an excursion through the living room and dining room.  From her jaunty steps, I can tell she’s loving the freedom to explore.  And I’m glad to provide the watchful eye she needs.

No sooner do I slip the paper into my pocket than her little hands are grabbing for a cell phone on a side table.  You wouldn’t think her arms are long enough to reach that far.  Daddy says she has the wingspan of a pterodactyl.

“I’m sorry, Elena,” I tell her.  “We’ll have to put that up here on the shelf.  Mommy’s phone isn’t a toy.”

I think she’s heard that before.  The removal of the phone doesn’t upset her; she just moves on. Quickly Elena toddles toward the living room fireplace where unlit candles stand in a decorative formation.  Not for long.  She grabs the chunky, center candle, clutches it to her chest, and proceeds on her way around the table.

“Let’s leave the candle here,” I say, gently prying it out of her fingers.  “If you drop that on your toes, it will hurt.”

I’m surprised Elena doesn’t become upset.  For a moment I think she’ll march on to other discoveries and leave the other candles in the fireplace.  Instead, she wastes no time turning around and heading back.  Soon there are five candles up on the table.

And so it goes as I tag along behind a toddler who knows very little, fears practically nothing, and desperately wants to be free and independent.  We adults must be attentive, instructive, and protective.

You know what?  There are times I’m not much more than a toddler in God’s family.  I, too, know very little, lack a healthy fear of those things that could hurt me, and struggle against the desire to be free and make my own choices.

Good thing I have a Heavenly Father who is so attentive.

“He who watches over [me] will not slumber” (Psalm 121:3).

My Heavenly Father is instructive.

“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Psalm 25:9).  Key word:  humble.  I have to be accepting of instruction and willing to apply it.

My God is also protective.

“He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 144:2).

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Oh, Father, forgive me for the times I act like a toddler and take off on my own.  Thank you for your constant, watchful presence, for those times you’ve grabbed things from my grasp because you knew they were not in my best interest. Thank you for instructing me through your word and through wise, godly people.  Slowly but surely you have equipped me with the knowledge of your ways–ways that are good and right.  Then you’ve patiently trained me to follow those ways.  May my heart be set on keeping your decrees to the very end (Psalm 119:112)!

(Photo credit:  www.jamesgoldworthy.com.)

 

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Last fall I read there were more than 150 million blogs on the internet, with approximately 175,000 new ones being launched daily.  At that rate, cyberspace now includes over 213 million blogs!

After much shopping, I have found twelve devotional blogs which I follow regularly.  I’ll introduce six today and six on Thursday–in no particular order.  After reading these sample bits, you might want to visit these blogs yourself, and discover fresh insight from…

IMG_1727…Jennifer Dukes Lee (www.jenniferdukeslee.com), wife of an Iowa farmer, mother of two daughters, professor of journalism, and author of a new book being released in early 2014.  Recently she wrote about “How to Talk Back to Fear:”

“I believe that bravery looks a lot like…believing.  And I believe that there’s really no such thing as failure, because there’s nothing unredeem-able in the hands of Christ.”

Smart woman, that Jennifer.

…Holley Gerth (www.holleygerth.com), life coach and author, tackled the topic, “When You’re Worried What People Think.”

First, Holley quoted 1 Corinthians 4:3 (MSG):  “It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion…Comparisons in these matters are pointless.”

Holley says.  “When I care very little what other people think of me then I’ve suddenly got room to care a lot about other people.”

Quite insightful, don’t you agree?

Unshakable Hope…Unshakable Hope (www.unshakablehope.wordpress.com), written by Bill, married more than twenty-five years, father of two daughters, diagnosed in 1996 with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  Bill has very little mobility, yet his spirit is more vibrant than ever.

On February 21, 2013, Bill wrote about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3).  They were about to be thrown into King Nebucadnezzar’s furnace and boldly proclaimed, “The God we serve is able to save us…, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not…we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up (vs. 17-18).

Bill says, “For me, this is more than a great example of strong faith.  I believe this is a pattern of faith that all Christians should emulate regardless of challenges we might be facing.  We can proclaim that, ‘Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from [insert your trial here].  BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT…we are not going to serve…doubt, fear, worry, hopelessness or anything else that destroys faith, hope, joy and peace.’

Strong words from a man of deep strength.

…Morning Story & Dilbert (http://www.morningstoryanddilbert.wordpress.com).  Kenny gleans thought-provoking posts from many sources and serves them up with a Dilbert cartoon — something for the mind and heart; something for the funny bone!

Recently Kenny included an anecdote about Abraham Lincoln, highlighting the president’s humility.  Although Lincoln was wise, responsible, and persevering, surely humility was one of the supreme qualities that contributed to his strong leadership.

Here’s the story Kenny shared:

“After the Battle of Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee and his Confederate forces were withdrawing to Virginia, and Lincoln felt that they were vulnerable. Eager to get the agony of the war over with, President Lincoln sent word to General Meade to attack.

“With his message, Lincoln also sent a personal note. ‘The order I enclose is not on record,’ said the note. ‘If you succeed, you need not publish it. Then, if you succeed, you will have all the credit of the movement. If not, I’ll take the responsibility.’”

Taking responsibility for failure, but giving others the credit for success.  Now that’s humility.

…Jean Wise of “Healthy Spirituality” (www.healthyspirituality.org), is a former nurse, but now focuses her time on writing My Photoand speaking.

On September 24, 2013, she shared the story of second-string quarterback, Kenny Guiton, of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Opportunities to get in the game have been few for this senior, but Kenny is always prepared.  Then, on a recent Saturday, he not only had a chance to play, Kenny scored a record six touchdowns!

In contemplating Kenny’s story, Jean said, “My job is to be faithful. To enter each day relying on God’s love and guidance.  To show up every morning with an open mind and heart.  To say to our heavenly coach, ‘Here I am, Lord.  What position do you need me to play today?’  To be ready when He calls me off the bench.  To wait and let God form me as He wills till His time is right.’”

Jean’s prayer resonates with my heart, too.

Diana Trautwein…Diana Trautwein‘s musings at “Just Wondering” (www.dianatrautwein,com).  She’s the mother of three, grandmother of 8, and a graduate of seminary in mid-life.  Currently Diana serves as a spiritual director.  Her post on October 11, 2013 was titled, “Giving Permission to Say No.”  Her words of wisdom include:

“Saying ‘yes’ is central to a full, rich challenging life.  We need to say yes to lots of different things over the course of our [life] journey.”

But!  “Try as we might, we cannot do everything.  (Because God already has.)  We cannot save the world.  (There is only one Savior.)  And we must not work ourselves to death.  (We are meant to enjoy God, and glorify God, not assume responsibilities we were never designed to bear.)”

See what I mean?  Wise woman.

Please return on Thursday to meet six more outstanding bloggers!

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(No, the title is not a typo!  Please read on!)

One time only the verb wrestle is used in scripture.  You probably remember the story of Jacob wrestling with a man through the dark hours of one night. Chances are, Jacob would have been sleepless anyway.  The next day he was to reunite with his estranged brother, Esau (Genesis 32:22-32).  Echoing in Jacob’s mind was his brother’s vow to kill him (27:41).

At the end of the wrestling match, when the man left Jacob, he realized his opponent had been God (32:30)!  (Some say God took the form of an angel.  Some say this was an appearance of Jesus, a pre-incarnate visitation, before he was born as a baby in Bethlehem.)  

Jacob’s heart must have been pounding madly at that moment, but not just from the exertion.  Imagine his shock to realize he had engaged with the all-powerful King of the universe in hand-to-hand combat!

The chronicler to record this event (and all the other events in Genesis) is generally accepted to be Moses.  As he wrote this particular story, Moses must have smiled to himself at the word play that flowed from his pen (Did they use pens of some sort in those days?)

First of all,  Jacob’s name in ancient Hebrew is ya’ aqob.  The word, wrestled, is ye’ abeq.  Even the location of the event is included in the word play.  Verse 22 indicates Jacob was camped along the stream called Jabbok, or yabbok in Hebrew.  Perhaps it was named later, as a memoriam to Jacob’s once-in-history experience.  By Moses’ time, the name would have been well-established.

But that’s just an interesting aside.   Showcasing his sense of humor was not God’s main objective for including this story in scripture.  What might he want us to learn from Jacob’s experience?

Perhaps it is a lesson in humility, as it certainly was for Jacob.  At the end of that wrestling match, God wrenched Jacob’s hip.  He limped for the rest of his life–a constant reminder that God was his Shepherd-caretaker, responsible for Jacob’s successes.  God was also his Angel-deliverer.  Jacob could not guarantee his own escape from Esau’s harm. or any other danger (Genesis 48:15-16).

God proved himself as Jacob’s Mighty One (49:24) the next day.  Shortly after the man left Jacob, Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming toward him–with four hundred men.  Quickly Jacob took precautions to protect his family.  But it was unnecessary.  Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him.  The two brothers, who had been alienated from one another for years, now wept in each others’ arms (33:1-4).

At the end of his life, Jacob reaffirmed that it was God Almighty who had provided all the blessings he’d enjoyed (Genesis 49:25).  The patriarch was as powerless to bless himself as he was to overpower God in a wrestling match.  And he prayed that the Strong God would give his blessings–tumbling out of the skies, bursting up from the Earth–to rest on the head of Joseph (vs. 25-26, The Message).

Jacob did not pray that Joseph, too, might  wrestle with God, but that God’s blessing would rest upon him.

Yes, wrestling with God has its place.  At times we may spar with God using words, much as David openly and honestly expressed his disappointments, depression, and even anger to God.  (See Psalms 22, 55, and 77 for examples.)  God is big enough to handle it.

But then comes the morning when we can affirm that his compassions, his blessings, never fail.  Great is the faithfulness of our God (Lamentations 3:22-23)!

So an additional bit of word play brings the two concepts together, thanks to my preacher-son, Jeremy:  wrestling + resting = wresting.

Wrestling allows load-shifting; resting results in peace.  Together they make us strong, steadfast, and firm in our faith.

(art credit:  http://www.bishopmarcelopires.org )

 

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Humble Pie

No one likes to eat humble pie—to be forced into a situation where an apology or retraction is blatantly required. It’s embarrassing to eat and does not taste good.

But below you’ll find an alternate recipe for Humble Pie that may be more to your liking. Upon eating this “soul food,” you’ll find more contentment with life and with others. A deep sense of security will settle in your heart, and a fresh perspective will enlighten your mind. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

Given below is a list of ingredients for new-and-improved Humble Pie. Equal amounts of each are recommended:

1. Gentleness—consideration of others, putting their needs
above my own.

2. Modesty—remembering that God and others are responsible
for any success I’ve been able to achieve.

3. Patience—able to wait, tolerant, not requiring
deferential treatment.

4. Quiet strength—self-control, doing what’s needed without
requiring recognition or even appreciation.

5. Obedience—recognizing that God’s ways, not mine, are
right and good. Christ is my supreme example of humble
obedience (Philippians 2:8).

6. Respect—regarding the feelings others, valuing them,
being gracious to all.

7. Teachability—accepting of instruction from God’s Word,
from God himself, and from others.

8. Appreciation of others–commending them for their gifts
and talents, their good ideas and accomplishments.

9. Submission—God increases (in my thoughts and
motivations, in importance in my life); I decrease (John
3:30).

10. Worship—recognizing that every good and perfect gift
(talent, ability, creative idea, etc.) comes from
above (James 1:17). Everything we are, everything we
have, everything we accomplish comes from God. He alone
deserves the praise and glory.

Yes, it’s a challenging recipe with lots of ingredients. But when you put them altogether, the medley of flavors creates a winning combination. And the effect upon ingesting is remarkable. Certain ills of the soul completely disappear, like self-absorption, self-advancement, self-importance, or self-promotion. (That self-toxin wreaks havoc, doesn’t it?)

And don’t forget the positive results listed above: Contentment, security, and a fresh perspective on life.

Oh. And one more result: Those who eat a steady diet of this kind of Humble Pie will one day be exalted (Luke 14:11). In other words, they’ll be raised in rank, elevated, and glorified.

To achieve that result, perhaps we should sprinkle one more ingredient on top:

Perseverance—the ability to delay gratification.

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Living Our Days

Gaining a heart of wisdom

Heartful Faith

Chasing After God's Own Heart

Laurie Klein, Scribe

immerse in God, emerge refreshed

Strength Renewed

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Colleen Scheid

Writing, Acting, Living the Grace of God

Walking Well With God

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Shelly Miller

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Wings of the Dawn

even there Your hand will lead me ~ poems and devotions by Heidi Viars

Just Wondering

Impressions Becoming Expressions

(in)courage

Impressions Becoming Expressions