Tag: humility

Who Are You? Sheep

Who Are You? Sheep

Encouragment
Sheep are not always the docile creatures people envision. The popular understanding is that sheep never put up a fuss and just go along with anything. Nope, try sticking a tube down their throats to give them a deworming pill and you’ll see what I mean. They can be gentle and docile as well as stubborn, selfish, pushy, mean, and sometimes, downright ornery. Some will even attack you if you’re not watching, particularly an old ram that is protecting his rights to the harem. Sheep can be rather stupid at times, especially when following along with the flock. The one thing that always gets them in trouble is their appetite. I can recall several occasions when a lamb got its head stuck in the fence because the grass on the other side must have tasted better. And I’m sure that the lost lamb in
More: Humility

More: Humility

Encouragment
One kind of gaffe is when politician says something truthful, often off the cuff or unforced, that hurts their cause or takes them off message.  One such gaffe is Jimmy Carter’s classic admission in a 1976 Playboy interview. Robert Scheer asked Carter if he felt this interview would make people more comfortable with how Carter’s faith would impact his presidency should he win. Carter begins his response by pointing out what he had learned in Baptist Sunday School about pride. Carter said, “The thing that’s drummed into us all the time is not to be proud, not to be better than anyone else, not to look down on people, but to make ourselves acceptable in God’s eyes through our own actions and recognize the simple truth that we’re saved by grace. I’m not trying to commit a deliberate sin.
For Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven

For Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven

Beatitudes, Series
One day Jesus walked up on a hillside and sat down. After His disciples gathered around Him He began to teach. That teaching, in Matthew 5:1- 7:29, is called the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus begins with nine observational promises, often called the beatitudes. My plan is to unwrap each of those promises in the coming weeks. Before we begin however we need to consider the first word in each of those nine promises - blessed. Some equate blessing with happiness, prosperity, and being fortunate. Those are okay for as far as they go. I think that the deeper meaning, however, lies in God’s grace and favor because each blessing is a freely given gift from God.    Over the years I’ve heard several different understandings or frameworks upon which to hang these verses. They’ve been called the “
Less is More

Less is More

Encouragment, Purpose
John had labored for years building his ministry. He had gained recognition, fought the folly of the religious establishment, created a brand, and established his message. While others sought to lift up John and assign him a unique place in history, he would instead point to another. John knew his role. He was the forerunner, the preparer of the way, the prophet. It is said that at the zenith of his ministry all of Jerusalem and Judea were coming to the wilderness to hear John and receive his ministry. (Mark 1:5) One day John’s disciples pointed out another ministry that, in their eyes, was competing with his ministry. They were drawing larger crowds, they were the hot new thing in town. Instead of standing his ground, protecting his territory, buying a larger tent, or procuring better sin
Prayer: As Natural As Breathing

Prayer: As Natural As Breathing

Encouragment, Prayer
I know that people stress out over prayer.  They hear the beautifully articulated public prayer of an old saint and feel that their prayers fall far short.  I remember feeling that way. Whether it was the prayers of a great-uncle that literally prayed around the world when he was asked to bless the meal for a family gathering. Or the wonderfully crafted prayers of any of a number of pastors and leaders. In comparison, my prayers felt flat and short. Here’s what I learned. Prayer is as natural as breathing. Think about it for a moment.  What is the first thing that a baby does after being born? They breathe.  Before they make the welcome sound of a baby’s cry they have to breathe. When it comes to our spiritual re-birth in Christ - prayer is like a baby’s breath.  The first thing we do i
A Presumption of Grace

A Presumption of Grace

Encouragment, Grace
One habit that I’ve been trying to cultivate is responding and reacting with grace.  The specific moments that I’m thinking of happen most often between Betty and I but also occur at work and at church. Let’s say for example that one morning I notice that the garage door has been left open all night. The worry is not so much someone stealing something but that an unwelcome critter may decide to take up residence. Let's also say that Betty was the last one home and closing the garage door was her responsibility. Not so long ago I would have responded by saying,”you left the garage door open last night.”  While my tone of voice could convey grace or indignation the statement itself conveys accusation and judgement by assuming guilt. Consider “you left the garage door open last night” in t
I’m Shocked!

I’m Shocked!

Encouragment, Seeing
“And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”” (Luke 18:9–14
Futility vs. Success

Futility vs. Success

Encouragment, Hope
In greek mythology, there is this king named Sisyphus that was condemned to a particularly futile eternal punishment.  In the myth, Sisyphus must roll a large boulder up a hill only to have it fall back down when he was near the top.  Not once but over and over and over again.  I think that there are some days that we all feel a little like this unfortunate fellow. While Sisyphus was condemned to futility we have a different promise. Proverbs 16:3 says,  “Commit your works to the Lord And your plans will be established.”  I wonder how many times someone has stood at a convenience store counter, purchasing a ticket for the latest mega-multi-jackpot-bonanza praying something like - “Lord, I’ll give half to the poor if you let me win.” I don’t have to wonder how many they didn’t win.  From w
A Demonstration of Humility

A Demonstration of Humility

Short Stories
It is easy to talk about humility or even to put on the appearance of being humble.  In this fictionalized account taken from scripture, we see Jesus demonstrating what real humility looks like. I was excited when mother asked me to help serve the Passover for the master.  To be in the same room, to listen to him speak, perhaps to see a miracle.  I didn’t realize, however, that the work would keep me in and out of the room so much. I was able to catch only the occasional word - Except for that one moment when the master asked me to stay. They were finished with the meal and I was gathering the plates and platters.  When I approached the master’s place he looked right at me.  It is difficult to put into words what I felt at that moment.  Perhaps it is sufficient to say that it felt like t
Worry, Stress, Anxiety, Oh My!

Worry, Stress, Anxiety, Oh My!

Encouragment, Hope
“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6–7, NASB95) Sounds simple, right? When worry, stress, and anxiety find their ways into our lives all we need to do is pile them on to Jesus and go along as if everything is hunky-dory, a-okay, zipadee do da - what a wonderful day. Can I tell you that over my lifetime there have been several times when it seems that Jesus and I were playing catch - pitching the anxieties of life back and forth? I’d throw them his direction and find some peace, only to have them return a few hours or a few days later. Do this often enough and it can make you anxious over your anxieties! Worrying about why you are worrying.  What I eventually learned is that there is a second part, well, actually a first part to this promise of God. The
True Value

True Value

Archive
Article by guest Blogger Tom Dale   Pride is perhaps the most common value in America today. We are taught and encouraged to "look out for number one", "love yourself", and "build your self esteem." We hear this everywhere from social media to advertising to the public school system. To the ears of this world, this seems like good advice. However, the Bible assumes that we are already pride filled. (2 Timothy 3:2, Philippians 2:21) Loving ourselves more than God and other people seems to come naturally. The last thing we need in our lives is more pride. Instead, God instructs us, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." (Philippians 2:4 ESV) When was the last time you saw “count others more significant than yourselve
No One Left: A Story on Humility

No One Left: A Story on Humility

Short Stories
The most startling thing about that first day was the silence.  No traffic, no motors, no phones, no music, no birds, not even the rustle of leaves.  Simply silence.  Well almost silence, my tinnitus was still there so at least I knew I was not deaf. Another startling thing was that I was alone. I don’t mean alone as being the only only one in a room or alone as being virtually invisible in a crowd.  I mean alone.  No other living soul anywhere.  Being somewhat of a loner anyway this was not a huge bother.  There was absolutely no separation anxiety between me and the rest of humanity.  They didn’t need me, I didn’t need them.  Well, that is what I thought anyway.   My first realization that I did need them came quickly after I flipped the light switch. Nothing happened.  I quickly made t