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Posts Tagged ‘humility’

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Greeting me with a smile, my friend announced with conviction, “I think I should focus on the positive things. I need to be more grateful for the good that is happening.”

Considering the discussion, I began imagining what it might be like if we—God’s women—consistently chose gratitude. How might hearts overflowing with thanks transform our lives? Could the life of a Christ-follower unburdened by the weight of thanklessness more powerfully impact others?

As prone to grumbling as anyone else, I often catch myself murmuring about the inconsequential…noticing the small stuff…losing sight of the eternal because I’m running hard into the right now of life. And, honestly, much of my thanklessness centers on me–focuses on the inconveniences common to the first-world problems of Self.

Can’t anyone remember to wash the toothpaste out of the sink?

Won’t someone please pick up the socks?

I don’t understand why nobody rinses the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

 During these complaint-filled times, my children avoid me—gesturing wildly at one another to escape upstairs. Dave, the love of my life and skilled interpreter of both my tone and actions, suddenly realizes he needs to send an email. Even the dog wanders to a quiet corner—protected from the words of an ungrateful woman.

But walking in gratitude? Humility expressed in thanks? Gratefulness rightly directed toward God? These are the marks of a right attitude…the differentiation between those things that are important and those that are temporal…the willingness to bend a knee in recognition of the One who deserves all thanks and praise.

This month, let’s choose to live intentionally grateful. Will you join me? Let’s exchange criticism for thanks, ungrateful hearts for spirits abounding in gratitude, and negativity for right attitudes shaped by humility in our position as followers and servants of Jesus.

 

Scripture for Reflection

 Psalm 136 The Message (MSG)

1-3 Thank God! He deserves your thanks.
His love never quits.
Thank the God of all gods,
His love never quits.
Thank the Lord of all lords.
His love never quits.

4-22 Thank the miracle-working God,
His love never quits.
The God whose skill formed the cosmos,
His love never quits.
The God who laid out earth on ocean foundations,
His love never quits.
The God who filled the skies with light,
His love never quits.
The sun to watch over the day,
His love never quits.
Moon and stars as guardians of the night,
His love never quits.
The God who struck down the Egyptian firstborn,
His love never quits.
And rescued Israel from Egypt’s oppression,
His love never quits.
Took Israel in hand with his powerful hand,
His love never quits.
Split the Red Sea right in half,
His love never quits.
Led Israel right through the middle,
His love never quits.
Dumped Pharaoh and his army in the sea,
His love never quits.
The God who marched his people through the desert,
His love never quits.
Smashed huge kingdoms right and left,
His love never quits.
Struck down the famous kings,
His love never quits.
Struck Sihon the Amorite king,
His love never quits.
Struck Og the Bashanite king,
His love never quits.
Then distributed their land as booty,
His love never quits.
Handed the land over to Israel.
His love never quits.

23-26 God remembered us when we were down,
His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot,
His love never quits.
Takes care of everyone in time of need.
His love never quits.
Thank God, who did it all!
His love never quits!

 LIVEFREETHURSDAY

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She stood near the street corner not far from a Kwik-Way gas pump–a crude cardboard sign in her hands.  Please help. Money needed.  The hastily written words left no space for pretense.  The young brunette with disheveled hair and frightened eyes was hurting.

Feeling the tug of a mother’s heart, I stopped to speak with the girl-woman.  Not  much older than my teenaged son, I wondered what circumstances could have led her here…to this place…and in this condition.  Ridges of bone stood out sharply against thin, peaked skin while dirt-smudged fingers pulled self-conciously at stained, rumpled clothing.

“Here,” I said, “please take this.  I don’t have much with me, but I thought you could use some lunch.”  And I handed her a bag smelling of French fries and grilled burgers.

“I work at that church,” I pointed encouragingly.  “If you stop by later today, someone will help you.”

“Sure,” the girl-woman said.  I never saw her again.  Since then, I’ve often  wondered. How desperately in need must we be before accepting help?  

Like this dear one, I have known what it is to be poor.  I’ve experienced hunger with nothing more than a six-pack of Pepsi in the refrigerator and a few cans of green beans in the pantry…but, I really mean a poverty of spirit.

The impoverished have few resources.  They are neither powerful nor influential and must rely on others for survival.  Those who are spiritually poor realize their similar condition.

All false-hood is torn away to reveal raw, human need.  And to the woman who weeps with loneliness?  He hears your heart repeating its muffled chorus…love me, love me.  To the little boy who yearns to be like other children?  He quietly whispers….I am enough.  To the cancer-riddled mother, He promises…I know the plans I have for you; plans to give you a hope and a future.

Are you like me, dear friend?  Are you in need?  Does your impoverished soul ache for relief?  Then embrace Christ today.  Admit your need.  Accept his offer of mercy.  He extends wounded hands in promise of an eternal tomorrow overflowing with the richness of His boundless love.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  

(Matthew 5:3) 

  

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The heckler hurled insults at anyone within range–the coach, ref, and players.  Consumed by the moment, he lost sight of a parent’s role as supporter.  He arrogantly assumed a position of superiority–negating the expertise and value of others.

At times, I’ve been the heckler in the crowd.  “What kind of call was that?”  “Wait a minute…does that guy know what He’s doing?”  “I could do the job better myself!”  In a myopic approach to the playing field, I begin focusing on the player I know best–me–and disregard the influence of the One who has the end in mind.  In my foolishness, I usurp His position.

And what happens?  The opponent gains the advantage.  But when I return to the sidelines–exhausted from my futility –the One I’ve treated with such disregard provides insight and direction.  “I know the plans I have for you,  Tammy.  Trust me.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Suddenly, the playing field seems different.  Obstacles are less daunting, the score loses its importance, and my stamina returns.  Have you, too, resorted to being a heckler?  Do you throw rash statements God’s direction because you don’t understand the game plan for your life?  Are the opponents of negative relationships, poor health, or finances stealing your allegiance to the sovereign God?

I encourage you, dear friend, to humbly step down from a position of false authority.  Things will come into focus.  As Phillipians 3: 14 reminds us, ”

Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

Can you see the goal?  It’s right there…just ahead.

 

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 “I am by nature a people pleaser, which means that by nature I’m a coward.”  –Pastor Mark Bates

Those words resounded with me.  How many times in my relationships had I been “diplomatic” in order to avoid disappointing someone?  Or, even worse, appeared to agree with that person, but instead proceeded to erect a DMZ (Demilitarized Zone for those of you who are non-military wives)?

What is a DMZ?  Let me illustrate.  Imagine I am South Korea.  Dave, my dear husband, is North Korea (for demonstration purposes only).  We’ve been at war with one another–although we can’t seem to remember why or even how it all began.  Now, though, we’ve decided to declare a tenuous peace.  We’re tired, bear noticeable war wounds, and need to regroup.  An agreement is drawn and, with distrust in our eyes, we draw lines in the sand.  If neither of us crosses this line, we’ll be just fine.  Peace has been made.  Really?  Have North and South Korea found that to be true?

Of course not.  Peace in the home is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of humility.  As Matthew 5:3 reminds us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”  Another version puts it plainly, “Great blessings belong to those who are humble.”  I don’t know about you, but humility in the marriage relationship can be tough.  What if he’s the one was wrong in the first place–or, if I was just a little bit in the wrong?  Shouldn’t he apologize first; ask forgiveness first?  Maybe–maybe not.  But am I more concerned with who crossed the DMZ first or do I desire to be reconciled in my relationship with the one I call husband?

I tell you honestly that making peace after even after an imagined insult  is one of my greatest areas of struggle in marriage.  Could it be a challenge for everyone?  I would guess that it is–after all, don’t we all enjoy being “right”? Most of the time, though, being right is far less important than acting in love.

3 Tactical Pointers to Help Disarm the DMZ–and Declare Peace

  • Relinquish your “rights” and admit your “wrongs”
  • Make the first move
  • “Do it badly if you must.  It’s worse not to do  anything at all!”  –Pastor Mark Bates

What works best for you to diffuse tension?  How have you learned humility in your marriage? 

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