Tag Archives: humility

Learning to walk


Walking with God in tough times is an ongoing process that requires humility, surrender of self, a desire beyond self interests, obedience, and a faith that continues to believe. But how do we develop and nurture these characteristics when our life was previously built on the opposite? We don’t. Trying to master these in our own power is an exercise in futility. That’s why Jesus sent his own Holy Spirit to dwell within us to accomplish in and through us what was impossible alone.


It starts with humility because its opposite, pride, is our fiercest foe. Pride thinks all the time about satisfying ‘my’ desires, comforts, and ambitions. Pride redraws the universe to revolve around ‘me.’ It’s insatiable appetite is never fulfilled. Whatever it has, it wants more. Humility finds calmness of heart and peace in the storm. It says, “It’s not about me. There’s something much bigger than me. I’ve learned to be content.” Personally, I am never more humbled when I think of God’s greatness and especially his mercy and love. It’s humbling to recognize that he chose us before the foundations of the earth were laid. Looking at the vastness of God’s creation brings me to bow in humility. Humility grows when we recognize the depth of our sin, how we deserve nothing, yet find God giving us all good things instead. A humble heart learns to say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” On the scale from humility to pride, where would you place yourself? Remember, only the Holy Spirit can bring you closer.


Humility leads us to repent. Repentance is surrendering and turning away from sin and the failures of our own limited efforts. More than that, repentance counts everything as loss that we once considered gain. God may or may not call you to leave your treasures, a secure job, or a bank account to serve him. But he will call you away from striving after them as your deepest desire. His Spirit brings us to joyfully turn away from these pursuits so we can pursue something far greater. Repentance turns away from the old self – no looking back. Do you find your old self more in your rear view mirror or in your windshield?


Repentance not only brings us forgiveness but the grace to see beyond ourselves. Just as a self-directed life focuses primarily on us, the Spirit- led life brings us to increasingly look at others through the eyes of Jesus. Can you admit to sometimes seeing people as interruptions or maybe not really seeing them at all? Jesus changes that. We’re all tempted to look at people, savings, possessions, and time as if they belong for our comfort. Jesus shows us that he owns it all. Scripture reminds us that even our bodies are not our own. They were purchased with a price!  What we surrender comes to seem very small compared to the opportunity to participate in his master plan of redemption and  restoration. Ask God this question each day, especially when you confront people you regard as difficult: “God help me to see others through YOUR eyes.”


Seeing our lives and others through God’s perspective leads the spirit-led life to obedience. Obedience is the test of love.  If we catch ourselves persistently envying a better lifestyle, a certain look, or other things if the world, we’re not loving God. If we constantly steal time from our spouse and children or our friends in need so we can pursue our own interests, we’re not loving God. If we persist in anger, bitterness, judging others, self pity, anxiety, or fear, we aren’t living in obedience to the one who calls us to freedom. Obedience is listening to the voice of God and doing what he says right then. Sadly, I can remember too many times he prompted me to pray WITH someone, not just for them later, but I chickened out; how many times I had opportunity to comfort and encourage others who were sick and lonely but instead stayed away. What is God calling you to do differently?  You may feel you’ve given the steering wheel of your life to God, but have you taken your foot off the accelerator and brake? Trust God to lead you in complete obedience even if it’s out of your comfort zone.


Finally, the obedient heart learns to keep believing. Believing God over our emotions and feelings allows us to remain content in him. It believes that Christ-in-us is a reality that changes everything, that it’s Jesus who makes us complete, not anyone or anything else. When we keep on believing, we start to look for God to show up in our daily life. Our former pursuits grow gradually more dim as we come to be more satisfied being in his presence.


Though I graduated from crawling to walking as a toddler, it seems learning to walk in cooperation with the Spirit of God is a lifetime pursuit. Thanks for sharing the path with me as we walk together.


Lessons from the raspberry patch


Happy 40th birthday to our beloved daughter, Jenny! She is a delight to us and to many. We always know her birthday is near because the raspberries are ready for harvest. We’ve been berry pickers for years. The children would help us (or help themselves) and now the grandchildren have “picked” up the tradition of harvesting berries. It’s often occurred to me in the middle of the harvest that the raspberry patch is a lot like life:


1. You need to face the heat to get the fruit.
Most folk I know like to “pick” their berries from the air conditioned store. But raspberries ripen in hot and humid weather. If you want the ones that God provided for free, you have to bear the heat. Life offers much enjoyable “fruit” that is worth the effort of bearing the “heat” of difficult situations. Productive resolution of long- standing conflict comes to mind. Maybe you can think of some “heated” situations you’ve been avoiding too long.


2. You need to go where it’s buggy.
Mosquitoes, daddy long legs, and other creepy crawlies like the berry patch and you have to work alongside them to bring in the harvest. Relationships too are frequented by things that bug us. The best of relationships are those that have learned to deal with them fearlessly, openly, and honestly. (Believe me, I am quite honest with the mosquitoes!)


3. You need to focus on the goal.
The goal is harvesting the fruit. We get distracted by so many things in the pursuit of life that we forget our real goals. Jesus gave us just one final goal: bring in the harvest. What are you focused on these days?


4. Be willing to bear the scars.
Wild raspberry plants are covered with prickly thorns. Inevitably, there will be some scratches and scars. We’d like to avoid the scars of life but our most productive efforts are in thorny situations where we’re bound to be marked.


5. Maintain firm footing.
Wild raspberries often grow in uneven ground. If you misstep and go tumbling, you’ll end up tangled in thorns and lose your goods. God’s Word reminds us often that the key to enduring the tough parts is to stand firm, trusting on his whole Word, not just the comfy parts.


6. Bend low.
Many of the best berries are hidden from view under the branches. To find them you have to stoop down and look from a different angle. Often in life we also have to be willing to humble ourselves and look at things – and people – from a different point of view. God promises he will lift up those who humble themselves.


7. Reach for the goal.
Most the berries aren’t within easy grasp and it takes a long reach through the thorns to pick the good ones. It’s tempting to take the easy paths in life, to do what pleases us and brings us comfort. But we miss so many harvest opportunities when we play it safe on the sidelines of life’s patch.


8. Not all the good berries are big and plump.
Berries come in all sizes. Even the smaller ones add tasty juice to the jam. People come in all varieties too. Don’t miss the opportunity to harvest a relationship with ones you might easily dismiss.


9. Savor the fruit.
We enjoy fresh raspberries by themselves, in jam, and over ice cream. We trust them because we picked them ourselves. But much of our produce goes to others, because just like life, it’s more enjoyable when the harvest is shared.


It’s not a deep theological discussion but I hope you find the lessons of God in the simple things in your life and that the harvest of your efforts is full of goodness.


“How should I pray?”


Is it better to pray while kneeling or bowing or can I pray sitting or standing? Do I have to fold my hands and close my eyes or is it okay to pray with eyes wide open and hands lifted high . . . or in my pockets? Should I pray in the morning or before bed or all day long? Should I say ‘grace’ in public? (What a great opportunity to bless your guests and server!) Should I end every prayer with “in Jesus name”? Should I pray out loud, or quietly, by myself or in a group? Can I pray while doing the dishes or taking a shower?


Prayer isn’t saying “Open Sesame” to access God’s treasures. There’s no magic formula. God cares about the posture of our hearts, not our bodies. Prayer is a two-way conversation between you and God. The closer your relationship with God the more natural your prayers will be.


We don’t have to approach Him trembling like the Tin Man before the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz. God says we who know Jesus should approach Him in confidence, that He hears us and will grant requests made according to His will. When He says we should ask whatever we want in His name, He doesn’t mean to add, “in Jesus’ name’ as a formulaic ending to every prayer. He means to ask in accordance to what Jesus would ask.


How did Jesus pray? He always focused on His Heavenly Father’s will. We’re quick to pray away every discomfort or pain and suffering, thinking if Jabez prayed that way at least one time, it’s a formula we can claim. But that prosperity and comfort approach mocks the life of Jesus and His followers. Paul writes frequently about suffering as a means of drawing closer to Jesus, advancing the gospel, and increasing glory. Jesus prayed for the cup of suffering to pass IF it was God’s will but concluded, “… not my will, but Yours be done.”


If You are willing God if it pleases You, if it advances Your kingdom, if it will bring others closer to You, IF…


Jesus gave us a model of how to pray: Honor God. Worship Him. Really trust in His plan. Bring requests to Him. Be honest about what’s on your heart. Tell Him you’re angry at Him or you feel He’s ignoring you. He’s a big God; He can take it. But don’t stop there. Tell Him that you don’t want it to stay that way, that you want to be closer, that you want your love to grow. Pray about everything with thanks and without worry.


Confess your sins, your weaknesses, your double-mindedness, your wayward heart that seeks pleasure and comfort more than closeness with Him. Confess apathy toward the suffering of others, the infernal busyness that keeps you from hearing and responding to His call on your life. Submit to Him. The only posture that matters is a humble heart submitted to Him.


Jesus gave us His Spirit to interpret our prayers when we can’t even form the words. Ask His Holy Spirit to guide the prayers of your heart as you seek to draw closer to your Lord God.



The Christmas gift of peace



And he will be called “The Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6


I love Christmas Eve. I love it when work stops, the presents are wrapped, preparations are completed, and the hectic pace of the holiday part of Christmas slows down. And for a moment, there is peace.


Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright.


Jesus is the Prince of Peace. We know that He came to the world to bring us peace, a peace that transcends all understanding. He offers a peace that is different from what the world offers, a peace that overcomes our troubles. It’s the calm that remains in us even when the storm rages around us. It’s the confidence that our circumstances don’t define who we are. It isn’t the false peace of this world but a real peace that permeates our life and overflows onto others around us.


Jesus brings us peace so that we can bring peace to others. He calls us to be peacemakers in a world of warring relationships.


Sometimes Christmas gatherings are anything but peaceful. Too often they are marked by the busyness of preparations, the chaos of excitement or sadly, the bitterness of conflict. How can we be peacemakers in these and other situations?


Exhibit humility and gentleness. (Ephesians 4:2)


Put others first (Philippians 2:3-4). This sometimes means overlooking when others are inconsiderate to us.


Be patient and wise. (Proverbs 19:11) Strive to maintain relationships more than differences of opinion.


Avoid unnecessary quarrels. (Proverbs 17:14) Learn to appreciate others who think differently from you. It’s not your job to change everyone to think just like you. Our job is to shine a helping light, not to blind them with our insisting ways. It’s God’s job to change people.


Let love be your guide. (1 Peter 4:8) Love covers a multitude of sins.


“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32).


Don’t let annoyances and conflicts ruin your Christmas. Receive the Christmas gift of peace that the Prince of Peace offers you and BE the gift of peace to others.



Test me, search me



Search me God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24


What comes to mind when you think about tests? Stress, anxiety, fear, sweaty palms, headaches? Most of us don’t enjoy tests because they reveal things about our abilities and our character. They also demonstrate our preparedness and whether or not we have “the right stuff.”


There is also something about trials that strip away unwanted elements in our lives. We speak of the trial by fire that destroys all that is merely temporal and leaves that which is everlasting. There is the heat of the furnace that removes the impurities and leaves only that which is pure. Daniel’s trial of trusting God when surrounded by hungry lions speaks to God’s role in the dangerous times of our lives.


Most of us don’t have to face real lions or a literal furnace of fire in our lives. But we do encounter a battery of tests, don’t we? School tests to prove our readiness for next level learning, tests of character when tempted by deceit, anger, envy, or any number of unwholesome traits. And most of us don’t relish the idea of tests. The preparation for them is often painful and stressful. The results are sometimes embarrassing if we are, after being weighed and measured, ‘found wanting’.


David displayed such confidence that he actually invited God to ‘test’ him. “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.” Psalm 26:2 He took confidence in his submission to God and God’s faithfulness to see him through the testing situation. Later in life, he had to repent of all self-confidence and again asked God to search his heart and reveal any impure thoughts or deeds.


As life progresses, the tests become more challenging and many of them quite outside our area of expertise. Some are completely outside of any ability or hope we might have in any of our natural abilities. But, if we have maintained a clear conscience before God, we can stand in the confidence of His promises and His grace to see us through the most severe life tests. It is out of humility, not boasting, that we invite God to test us, search us, reveal in us any unworthy thoughts and deeds, so we can submit them to him. And then, in faith, to stand firm and hold fast to God’s promises in the middle of our tests and trials.


Search me O God, know my anxious thoughts. Lead me in your way.



Keys to enduring the journey

Sometimes, life is tough. Real struggles make our journey difficult and painful. Imaginary ones confound our life experience. The old hymn, “Trust and Obey,” sums up our hope but how do we bear up in practical ways day by day, moment by moment? One way is to remind ourselves that we have ONE life to live, and it is a life that goes on forever. Living a forever Kingdom Life instead of one just focused on circumstances elevates us beyond our fears and anxieties. 1 Peter 5:6-10 offers practical guidance.

V. 6-7. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

There is a fight under way to remove the phrase “under God” from the pledge of allegiance. But key to enduring our journey amidst pain and sorrow, fear and anxiety, is to humble ourselves under God. Submission to His will frees us from the imprisonment of our own efforts and our own fears. Our faith promises He cares for us and will lift us up, so shouldn’t we live today as if we believe it?

V. 8-9. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Wake up. There is a real enemy. We cannot fight him in our own strength, but only through humbling ourselves before God and standing in our faith, protected with spiritual armor of faith, truth, peace, the Holy Spirit, and the assurance of salvation. You are not alone in your suffering. God sees you where you are and gives you other believers to share your load.

V. 10.  “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Steadfast means to remain resolute, committed,loyal, true to the faith God has given you, fully persuaded, trusting Him.

Life is tough. But this life on earth isn’t forever. As Francis Chan illustrates: Imagine a long rope that goes on forever. Now imagine the end of the rope that you hold, that last couple inches, representing your entire life on earth, 70,80, maybe 90 years. Most of our worries and fears and efforts are focused on this tiny piece of the rope’s beginning. But how much of our thought and ambition is focused on the part of the rope (our life) that goes on forever? Chan says, “I can endure anything for a mere 90 years!”

90 years of MY pain and suffering? Humble yourself before your God, receive His sufficient grace and power, and experience His persevering Spirit alive in you. Even as you take each sip of cool water to refresh your body, invite God’s Spirit to refresh your soul and experience the power to endure the difficult journey.

Great hope for today

Many people have feelings of worthless or low self-esteem.

Looking up at the stars on a clear night has a way of putting our minute lives into perspective. We are quite small in comparison to the vastness of God’s creation. Crises also have a way of humbling us in a most vivid way. At the end of ourselves with no hope for our own ability to solve something like cancer, the loss of a loved one, joblessness, financial ruin, or other catastrophe, we come to realize our profound dependence on God. We realize that our very breaths are measured by Him. And we feel very small in the presence of the creator of the universe, the one who has no beginning or end.

But this smallness, this sense of being unimportant to the grand scheme of things is not the whole picture. There is reason to have great joy and hope right now. For God so loved us that He sent His only begotten Son to rescue us. When? When we were still rebellious sinners, since we were determined to go our own way. God says that to whoever believes in His Son, He gives them the right to be children of God. And not just adopted children but also heirs of His kingdom, an eternal life of joy, a life with no tears or pain or sorrow. And part of that kingdom can be experienced right now. Real joy and hope that starts now and lasts forever!

We are distracted by other things in this world, things we think are greater pleasure. Even in the important and necessary things of life, we forget God, and we forget to thank Him. And how does our great God respond? He graciously waits for us. Why does He love us so? I really don’t know; only that He made us and longs to spend time with us. Just like you long to spend time with your loved ones and feel fulfilled when they choose to spend time with you, God enjoys being with us. I am convinced this is partly for His pleasure but also because He desires the very best for us. Admittedly, don’t you want the very best for your life? Don’t you want the very best for those you love? It is found in one place, with God.

In the small and big parts of your life you are of great importance. You are highly valued, esteemed, loved and treasured. So if you are feeling down and unimportant, invite God to your pity party. He will remind you of how precious you are and you will experience more of how awesome our God really is.

Path to Peace – Dress for “Success”

Every day when we get dressed we have a choice of what to wear. Is it going to be hot or cool? Do my activities call for nicer clothes or can I put on something more comfortable? We dress according to the activities and demands of the day.

Before we can bring light into the world we need to have a sense of real peace in our own life. If my life is generally full of fear, intimidation, bitterness, regret, anxiety, anger, etc, what hope do I have of sincerely bringing the light of hope and peace to others? Just like getting dressed, we need to ‘put on’ certain attributes each day. If you’ve ever wished you were more thoughtful, caring, full of grace, the new testament is filled with examples of ‘putting on’ attributes that embed these characteristics in your life and taking off’ things that take away from your quest to live a victorious life. None of us do this perfectly;  those generally known as being patient are sometimes impatient. Those known to be compassionate sometimes are uncaring, maybe even hurtful.  But being intentional about preparing your day to ‘put on’ compassion for example, will lead to the cultivation of a compassionate heart and life.

A practical way to prepare yourself to pursue peace throughout the day is by visualizing “putting on” the character you want to be known for, the character that nurtures peace in your lives and those whose lives you touch. You can reflect on this each morning when you get dressed. As you put on each article of clothes, you can ask God to help you ‘put on’ the ability to:

  • Extend compassion to those you meet today
  • Treat others – and yourself – with kindness
  • Walk in a humble way, not prideful, selfish, or controlling
  • Practice gentleness with others, especially those who are going through a difficult time
  • Be patient with yourself and others.

Here’s to ‘putting on the clothes of peace’ needed to Go Light Your World!

 “…Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 b