What is Humility?

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 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.” 1 Peter 5:5-7

The Bible is full of verses about humility. God words are harsh on the prideful but he promise grace, forgiveness and healing to the humble. It has made me ponder the word humility. What is humility exactly? I know this word, I’ve even used this word to describe people but then again I wonder what humility looks like in practical terms and for our lives? For humility is a trait we should desire and work towards.

A common definition of humility is a low self-regard and sense of unworthiness. In other words, a modest view of self in relation to others, the world and God. Humility relates to how a person sees themselves in relation to God, and often refers to submission to God and his commands. I often think of humility as the awareness of how small we are in comparison the world and the Lord our God. A humble heart means a heart that acknowledges their own sin and desperate need for Jesus. Humility is the opposite of narcissism.

When you think of children they all view the world as revolving around them. I have never meet a child who did not think this way. It is part of being a child. Although the child thinks the world revolves around them in reality they are the weakest, most vulnerable and most dependent on others. Children cannot even take care of themselves. We are all children in God eyes. No matter how old we get. No matter how wise we think we are. No matter how successful or talented. We are all just innocent little selfish children who think we understand so much when the truth is we can do nothing on our own.

I think the older I become the more aware I become of how insignificant I am. I become more aware of my own sin. More aware of my own limitations. More aware of how little I can accomplish on my own. The more aware of how much the world needs Jesus and how very little I am capable of solving the worlds problems. I believe this is a reflection of God’s spirit moving and working in me to creat more humility. For it is only through humility and submission to God that God’s spirit can move and work in me to accomplish something he wills. God’s plans, purposes and will is always good. On the other hand my own plans, purposes and will may have good intentions but often causes disaster. Unintended disaster but disaster all the same.

Within my walk with Jesus my struggles with mental illness has been incredibly humbling. Each time I get sick and incapable of taking care of myself I am reminded of how small I am but how insanely powerful the lord our God is. For it is often my illness that forces me to slow down, ask for help and rely on others. It is easy to see this as a hinderance rather than seeing it as a process in which God is working in me to produce more humility and ultimately holiness. For what the enemy means for evil is changed to good when we humble ourselves and submit to the Lord our God. Similarly it is often through what seems like a hinderance in my life that God equips others.

I am incredibly thankful for my aunt and uncle who have taken me in time and time again when I was at some of my worst times. They have listen to me ranting and raving in anger over many diners. My cousin and her husband have been generous beyond what anyone could ever ask. There patience, love, support and care has been invaluable. I am thankful to have been born into the family I have.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:37-40

He Did Not Come To Judge You But to Save You

“Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” John 12:44-50

I grew up as a highly competitive gymnast. You compete before a judge who gives you a score based on your performance. They write down ever little mistake you make. Similarly in school you are graded on everything. Every test, every project, even your behavior is judged. Our world has rules, laws, guidelines we must follow. You break these laws you are held accountable. Similarly people are instinctively judgmental. Some people more than others but I have never meet a person that did not struggle with being judgmental in some aspect or another.

Similarly in the history of the church there has been much judgment. People are told they are sinners and will be condemned to hell. Christians have used this fear factor for many generations to get people to “repent and come to Jesus.” The result is many walk away from Jesus rather than embracing him.

When we as humans comes to terms with our sin, when we realize the magnitude of our mistake we often feel guilt, shame, remorse and a fear of judgment. But Jesus did not come and die on a cross to judge you. He came and died for you to save you. He took the judgement on your behalf. He came to pull you out of your prison so that you can walk in light and life. The world chains us. Our sin chains us. We are all held prisoner. But Jesus came to liberate you. He came to break those chains. Take his hand for he is full of love, joy, hope, gentleness, kindness, forgiveness and freedom. He is the light to your darkness. Amen

Carrying the Weak

The other night I was playing with my 2 dogs. I was trying to get my little, not so normal, dog Itsy to bring me her toy. She just kept turning in circles, prancing around with her toy. She would stop and look at me, get supper excited and in her excitement return to making her circle but even faster. She could burn a hole in the floor with her circling. It was not that she was being disobedient to my calling her rather she just did not understand what I was asking her to do. After some time I was tired of the play time so I decided to go up stairs to bed. I called both of my dogs names. My normal dog Coco instantly ran up the stairs following me. Itsy just kept turning in circles.

Itsy is not normal. She does not see well and has some intellectual abnormalities. So I walked down the stairs, picked up the little Itsy and carried her up the stairs with me. She was so happy that I picked her up. She was rubbing up against my face to show her affections. I did not have to carry Coco because he was fully capable of walking up the stairs to follow me. Itsy on the other hand needed someone to pick her up and carry her.

I was reminded of the story in the Bible that talks about a disabled man being carried to Jesus. They could not get to Jesus because of the crowd so these group of people lowered the sick man into the room through the roof to get to Jesus. These were some good friends. They went through a lot of trouble to help this disabled man. We to often must serve as this friend carrying the weak, helpless and needy to Jesus. For we are often like my dog Itsy unable to make our way.

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.” Luke 5:18-25

Shattered Glass

I have been making stained crushed glass to use in my art projects. I take a piece of glass, shatter it with a hammer then stain it with alcohol ink. I am using it to make coasters and trays. Shattering the glass very much reminded me of the painting I did for the broken girl series. I titled it shatters pieces. It was the painting describing the break between me and men in general but also a break in trust of the church. My body, heart and mind were all shattered much like the glass. We are all so broken people.

By making the resin coasters and platters it was a reminder that what was once a whole, beautiful piece of glass is so easily shattered by this world. Glass is so breakable and so are we as humans. We are so temporary and fragile. Medical care can glue the broken pieces together but it is never truly whole. The sin of this world stains us much like the alcohol ink stains the glass. Then the world shatters us. I feel like the gospel and the Holy Spirit is like the resin. It is through the gospel that the shattered glass pieces stained with alcohol ink can then become something else. So is true for us, we can become something else, we can become a new creation in Christ. It looks like glass but it is something else entirely. Similarly resin once hardened is much stronger than glass. These resin coasters and tray have a variety of things within them included these shattered pieces of glass. They are beautiful, durable and sturdy. I could hit it with the hammer and it will not shatter.

We all have stains. We all have blemishes. Our physical bodies are all wasting away. We are all broken vessels. But we also have the opportunity to become a new creation. Just like these shattered stain glass pieces are made into something new and different. Something even more beautiful and durable then the previous glass for The Holy Spirit is like the resin. Stronger than the fragile glass that has none of God’s spirit to hold it together.

What is the purpose of Confession?

When I think of confession the first thing that comes to mind is something from a movie. A person goes into this little room with a priest in another room. There is a screen between the two and the person confesses to the priest. This is what they did in the movies. I am not catholic so I do not know if confession is still done in the manor in the Catholic Church. I guess I will have to call up some of my catholic friends and ask.

As someone not raise in any church I did not learn about confession. It was never something that was taught to me. I never gave it much thought. Actually I never gave confession in a formal sense any thought until recently. As I have contemplated the concept of confession I realized it is something I had been practicing for a very long time I just did not know that was what I was practicing. It is one of the reasons I feel a need for Christian fellowship or Christian counseling. For this is a place I could let everything out. Expose all the smelly, ugly things in my life. I think all the Christians I’ve meet probably think I smell like a pig sty.

At the heart of confession is a declaration of your need for Christ. It is admittance that you are a sinner. That you need the blood of Christ to cleans you. It is admittance that it is only through Christ you are able to become acceptable before a Holy God. When we declare this to God we are confessing our sin, it is through that that we are able to receive God’s grace offered to Jesus. It is only through Jesus that we are able to receive the grace of God.

So why do we ever confess to another believer? Why do we have the tradition of confessing to a minister? Why is confession even practiced in the church when we can simply kneel down in our home and confess to God quietly ourselves? I do not know if this is right but it is what I have come to terms with.

We do not have to confess our sins to another believer for God to grant us his forgiveness. He has already offered it freely with the death of Jesus on the cross. But we humans often do need this. Similar it is through another believer indwelled with the Holy Spirit that is able to act as a body of Christ, a tangible person in our lives. This person then is able to respond to our confession with grace, mercy, accountability and prayer support.

We often fall into patterns within our lives of sin. We then continue to repeat the same sin over and over. We may confess the sin in quiet between ourselves and God. We receive forgiveness but Satan is cleaver. He deceives, tempts and confuses us. We fall into a pattern of repeating the same sin. In doing so we are not truly living a life of freedom in Christ. We are not walking the way Jesus says we should walk. We are not living a life of repentance. We are simply living in sin.

When we humble ourselves enough to confess our sin to another believer it helps us to break the cycle. You now have someone else in your life able to help you break free. Confession to another believer is as much about helping each other, carrying each other’s burdens and mutually submitting ourselves to the lord in unity as it is about forgiveness of sins. Another believer does not forgive our sins but they can help us live victorious lives in Christ.

I personally think that confession can be done with any believer indwelled with the Holy Spirit. It can be done at the diner table. On a walk in the park or in a church. I feel like my christian counselors have often served as this person. I guess I have a very liberal view of what can constitute as confession to another believer. But I think it is good to have someone whom you feel safe, comfortable, and trust to help you break free from the chains of sin without judgement or providing further temptation.

It is only through the blood of Jesus we can receive forgiveness for our sins. We often need someone to act as a body of Christ to help us live holy lives and free from the bondage of sin.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16