I am amazing
At being truly humble
You would be amazed
- Humility Haiku
Is it humble to try to teach humility? Probably not. Nevertheless, here goes. :)
Christ had a special esteem for the weak and lowly. Jesus welcomed children saying, “Allow the little children, and don’t forbid them to come to me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ones like these” (Matthew 19:14). He drew attention to the humility of children. "In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?' Jesus called a little child to himself, and set him in the middle of them, and said, 'Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven'” (Matthew 18:1-4). Jesus specifically taught us not to devalue or judge children, saying, "See that you don’t despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). God calls us to esteem children as Christ did, to value them as a good gift from God. "Behold, children are a heritage of Yahweh. The fruit of the womb is his reward" (Psalm 127:3). If we are humble towards children, they will learn humility by our example.
Teaching humility is difficult. The most impactful way is to be an example. Be a student of your child. Be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). Direct your attention and theirs on being curious about and attentive to God and others. Teach them that every gift is from God and meant to be used to serve and honor others (I Peter 4:10). Boast in your weaknesses, confess your faults, and redirect personal glory towards God. Never humiliate your children, but help them navigate humiliation as an opportunity to challenge hidden pride and grow (Proverbs 11:2). Steer clear of competition and comparison. Direct their attention to the things of awe which point to the Creator. Recognize their efforts, but give God the praise for their qualities.
Scripture encourages humility. In Romans 12:3 Paul says, "For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith." And in Philippians Paul says, "Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3, HCSB). In I Corinthians 1, he points out that God chooses the weak and the lowly, to put to shame the things that are strong. And Paul lived in humility. "I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, HCSB).
Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. "Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8). Christ-like humility means submitting to God and what He says about you - over your own or anyone else's opinions about yourself. When your confidence is in Christ alone, you are free to focus on others, treating them with elevated regard, honoring and serving them. In addition, humility is the virtue that begets all other good virtues. As St. Augustine said, "Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance."
- edited excerpt from Parenting in Christ
The other day I heard someone ask
“Didn’t Jesus say, ‘Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime’?”
The other responded, “Yeah…”
Well, the answer, I hope you know, is No! He didn’t say that! In fact, no one is sure of the actual source, but it has been most often credited to Lao Tzu, the Chinese founder of Taoism, about 2700 ish years ago.
This got me thinking, what other ideas and sayings might be floating out there wrongly attributed to God's words? Below are five sayings I've heard passed around by Christians, but only one is in the Bible. Guess which one. I’ll give you the answer at the end.
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
“Eat, drink and be merry”
“Forgive and forget”
Regardless of their true source, these pithy sayings can feel like handy tools for life, even mantras to live by. But as Christians we are not called to live by what sounds good, seems true, or is popular. We are called to live “on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). What we believe needs to be held to account by Scripture. We are called to judge arguments and every pretension against the knowledge of God and take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ. Jesus had a word for those who teach man's ideas as if they were from God, "hypocrites.”
As Jesus went about his ministry discipling and teaching, he separated man-made “holy” laws from the truth of God’s laws. God’s laws are not for us to give lip-service, begrudging obedience, or to perform mindless rituals. His laws reveal how things work in the Spiritual world, in His Kingdom. They are intended to change us from a mindset that the world revolves around us to a mindset that we are here to serve God and others.
This is not to say that practical rules like removing your shoes indoors, washing your hands, and not playing with fire aren’t valuable. These are rules for life, helpful rituals that keep us safe, healthy and enable us live in community, but they pale in comparison to the knowledge of God. Carpets will disintegrate, germs will die, fire will be quenched but God’s kingdom will endure for eternity. The rules of life protect our treasures on earth, but our minds should be focused on treasures in Heaven. Then, our hearts can be properly aligned to overflow with goodness in what we do and say. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The mind focused on the kingdom of self will be defensive, rebellious, frustrated, and self-seeking. The mind directed towards treasures in Heaven and the things of God, will be at rest, overflowing naturally with good behaviors, attitudes, and words.
So, back to the pithy sayings, here's the Bible verse, and the references for the rest.
The scripture is “Eat, drink and be merry”
As for the rest, here’s their true sources as best I could determine.
“God helps those who help themselves.”
-Poor Richard's Almanac by Benjamin Franklin
“Spare the rod, and spoil the child.”
-Hudibras (a satirical bawdy poem) by Samuel Butler
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
–Hebrew Proverb (unknown source)
“Forgive and forget”
–King Lear by Shakespeare
Be careful what rules and pithy sayings you attribute to God. Study scripture yourself, seek to know God and the wisdom He gives for life in His Kingdom.
"These people draw near to me with their mouth,
and honor me with their lips;
but their heart is far from me.
And in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrine rules made by men."
- Matthew 15:8-9
I didn't go on this trip looking for a life-changing experience, but it was still impactful to me to see the work God was doing in the church and in the community around the church. The pastors and member of the church shared their compelling testimonies and powerful ministries. Seeing how their faith impacted their community and attitude towards children was a beautiful testament that the God of love is the same across cultures, languages, and distances.
It was also uncomfortably humbling. But is being humbled ever painless? Here at home, being a mom means I do a lot of leading, decision making, and that what I say has weight. Joining a team of strangers and having to work and do most of the day together was sometimes difficult. I lost that sense of being valued that I have with friends and family at home. Though painful, it was good a reminder of how little I really am entitled to and how much I have to be grateful for.
We finished camp on Friday night and were on the way to the airport around 4 am the next morning. The 11 hour time difference and 20 hours in the air were more taxing on the way home. When I stepped out of the airport my first thought was how clean the air seemed (in Los Angeles!). I had some serious digestive problems and a bad ear infection. It took me a solid week to recover physically.
And I came back with something else, a conviction that it may be time to change some things up back at home. I am not entirely sure why, but I think it's in part because I saw how far a dollar could go just about anywhere else - especially Kyrgyzstan. For $40,000 they can build a large, beautiful hostel from the ground up on the property where the Oak House girls live. It will be a sustaining source of income for them and keep the Oak House open. To do something like that in Los Angeles would probably run about $5 million minimum. I think also the more relaxed, slow paced, and uncrowded life in Kyrgyzstan appealed to me. We don't plan to move to Kyrgyzstan, at least not yet, but I hope we can go back - maybe our entire family. None of the rest of my family has done a missions trip yet. I would love for them to meet and connect with the amazing people at the church in Kyrgyzstan and to experience God at work in another part of the world. I hope to return and continue those relationships, to be an encourager to my friends on other side of the world. We're staying in touch over social media.
We've made a decision as a family to pursue supporting foster care kids here at home. This probably means moving. My heart and prayers are still with the church, children, and ministries in Kyrgyzstan. I'm excited to see where God takes us next.
Recently, I was reminded of the story best known as "The Prodigal Son." I’ve heard this story many times, most often identifying with the oldest son, and many times with the prodigal son. But I had never considered the perspective or lesson of the father. In the parable the father is God and the message speaks to his mercy, forgiveness, and grace for an undeserving son (Luke 15:11-32).
Honestly, I had started to look at this parable like a modern day judgey mom. Seriously, what kind of parenting fails led to these two? One child became a ungrateful degenerate and the other self-righteous and entitled. But it's not the failings of the children that reveal the nature of the father. In fact, it is their response to the father in the midst of their worst moments that reveal the father's character. The younger son knows his father is one to treat even his lowest employees well. This son didn't expect to be welcomed back as a son, but neither did he fear punishment. He ran to his father because he knew the kind of person his father was, merciful and compassionate. And his father was, abundantly more so than the son could have imagined, welcoming him with great affection and generosity. The father restored the parent-child relationship, and celebrated his returned son.
My kids can act like the sons in the parable at times. The older is a bit self-righteous and the younger a bit more rebellious. I certainly hope my son never becomes like the prodigal in this story - spending all he has and hitting the bottom of society. But if he does, I hope I can be like the father in the story. I hope I can set aside my pride and hurt, tame my judgmental tongue, and run to my child whatever the mess. And hug him, whatever the stink. I want this relationship to be as accurate a reflection as possible of the kind of parent-child relationship I have with the good Father. So I am working now to demonstrate to my son that I am the kind parent he can always return to, a parent more interested in relationship than rules. I want both of my children to believe that they will always be received with warmth, that I will come out and meet them where they are - like the father did with each of the sons.
Being rooted in Christ Jesus, I can show my children this goodness and mercy, this unfailing love; just as it has been shown to me.
In one week I'm leaving my family to get on a plane for Kyrgyzstan. I'm going to help support a local church there along with a few other people from my church here. We will be working as helpers for an outreach summer camp for the kids there. The church doesn't have enough staff or supplies to support all the children that come, so that's where we come in and fill the need. While I am a bit nervous, I do have a joy and a peace knowing that I my time and efforts are being spent on something good. It hasn't been practical or easy to go on mission trips since my little ones came into the picture. In fact, this will be my first time doing missions in about 15 years.
Actually, that's not entirely true. Parenting is missions. Parenthood calls for a sacrifice of time, money, and energy to serve a people who, when we meet them are in need of care and truth. Parenting taken me far outside of my comfort zone, and required me to serve others with a purpose. And it's been a time of personal spiritual growth. As Darren E. Short said, "Wisdom does not grow on trees, the majority of the time it grows in the storm."
And to me, having a child, was a storm. I usually describe it as "shock and awe." Sleep, over. Personal space, gone. Going to the bathroom, never alone. But then something started to change, I slowly changed from a physical caregiver, to a teacher. My words, behavior, and attitudes started coming back at me, even the ones I didn't want them to copy. And I started to realize that all of this, not just what I want them to learn, is shaping them. And so all if it becomes my message, my testimony to them about how to understand the world around them, the things inside them, and the things unseen.
As a person of faith, this means I need to be really careful about how I present the gospel and who I allow to preach to my children. And everyone is preaching something. Not always with words, but everyone is teaching something with their attitudes and actions.
Hopefully, preaching without words works out for me in Kyrgyzstan. They primarily speak Russian there and I don't. They do speak some English and practicing English with us is a big part of the draw of the camp. I'm a bit nervous. I care about the message I am bringing and how I come across. It's not about the language barrier even as much as cultural and age differences. So, if you're the praying type, please say a prayer for me and the others who are going to Kyrgyzstan to serve at the kids camp. Pray for safe travels and a clear and true gospel message.
If you want to know more, you can read about the mission trip here: http://pacificcrossroads.org/short-term-mission-trips/
Or of course feel free to ask me!! :)
I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone this, but when my firstborn landed on this planet, placed on my belly to be precise, my first thought was “What is this thing?” Honest to goodness. Maybe it was the 40 hours of labor with no food or sleep, but it felt like someone dropped a little alien on me. I had read up on babies, but that was as useful as reading up on surgery. It’s a whole different story when someone throws a human at you and says "Have at it!"
I tripped and stumbled along, keeping her alive, wrestling with my own preconceived notions about babies, the human condition, and the burden of having responsibility for another soul. I knew I wanted to have a healthy relationship built on trust, love, and compassion, but when does that start? How is it developed? Looking back, I have come to believe the connection starts right away. What you do from the beginning matters. The relationship grows and takes shape as you travel on a journey through the unique stages of child development discovering and re-discovering who your child is alongside them.
We aren't left without insight from the Bible. The Gospels tell of a time when Jesus was being followed by large crowds, speaking to and healing them as he went. But when the people brought little children to Jesus, the disciples rebuked them. To the disciples, these little children were in the way of more important people and activities. Jesus called it differently, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). It's easy to cast children aside, to think of them as less important. But Jesus esteems, welcomes, and protects children. He sees their value, their humility, faith, sense of wonder, curiosity, and innocent mindedness.
In I Cor 14:30 Paul says, “In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” Little children have less experience with evil, they haven’t learned yet to distrust, put up walls, become cynical, or self-righteous. In fact, studies show that during the first few months a baby thinks he’s just an appendage of the mother! It isn’t until 15-24 months that a child begins to understand that he is an individual and begins to experience new emotions such as embarrassment and envy.
So I don't think babies are all that scary anymore. OK, just a little. They are so fragile, needy, and demanding. They are in fact, little aliens, new to this planet and way of life. But, I think, if we have the perspective of Christ, then we will see their beauty. We will receive them with open arms and learn wonderous things from them.