Wisdom = Peace

I don’t seem to be done with the theme for September yet — wisdom. A book that I’m currently reading (Loving People Who are Hard to Love by Joyce Meyer) links wisdom with peace. She says:

“Humility and peace work together, and both are attributes of wisdom.”

If we are wise, we will strive to be peacemakers. As Peter puts it, we must “pursue peace.” How do we do this? Turn to the book of James for this advice:

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not wisdom that comes from above …. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:13-15; 17

This doesn’t mean we need to be door mats. It does mean that we should listen respectfully to those with whom we disagree, try to understand their point of view, admit our own prejudices, and be willing to forgive when necessary. If you can do this, you will reap the reward of “a harvest of righteousness “James 3:18.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

For more about peace see these posts:

Acceptance = Peace

Peace Is a Practice by Morgan Harper Nichols–Book Review

Peacemaker or Peacekeeper?

Wisdom and Humility #2

” Not until we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God’s holiness and sovereignty, acknowledging our own littleness, distrusting our own thoughts, and willing to have our minds turned upside down, can divine wisdom become ours.”

J. J. Packer

For more about the holiness of God see these posts:

The Holiness of God–R.C. Sproul–Book Review

The Attributes of God part 2

If God is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk by John Pavlovitz–Book Review

Wisdom and Humility

In a recent sermon, our Pastor, using the parable of the wedding feast, stressed humility. Jesus was telling some folks who were anything but humble, that they should mend their ways.

“When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he
told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not
take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been
invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give
this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important
place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host
comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be”
honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts
himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11

This really resonated with me because this month I’ve been studying what the Bible says about wisdom, and guess what? Wisdom is often linked with humility. Here are some examples:

“Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13

Our knee-jerk response is to respond quickly, and to put ourselves first. Worldly advice confirms this — “don’t be a door mat” — “look out for number one.” This is our sinful nature talking. According to the Bible when we do this, we lack understanding. It’s not wise, and it won’t get the best results in the long term.

So, when making decisions, take a breath. Pray for understanding. Be humble. Be wise.

For more posts about humility see:

The Gift of Humility

Rest in Humility

It’s Hard to be Humble!

What is Kindness?

Recently I was asked to write an article for The Lutheran Ambassador, the magazine published by my denomination (AFLC). Their theme for June is the fruit of the Spirit, and the topic I was given was kindness. You can read it below. You can also subscribe to The Lutheran Ambassador for free by following this link https://www.aflc.org/lutheran-ambassador!

Kindness.  We know it when we see it, but it’s hard to pin down a definition.  Google it and you’ll find it described as:

“the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate”

Aren’t these three different things? Do we have to have them all simultaneously to be considered kind?  The short answer is “no.”  Kindness is both more and less than this.  We don’t have to display a certain list of attributes in order to be kind.  Kindness can be as simple as responding courteously, or as complicated as taking the time to listen to another person and help them work through a difficult situation.  It can cost nothing financially, or it can cost a great deal.  It can take a few seconds, or years. Kindness is not a particular response, it is a particular mindset:  one of looking at the one person right in front of you, empathizing with them, and then trying to meet their needs. It means getting out of the self-centered default position that normally controls our brains (in other words, sin) and putting on the mind of Christ. As we are told in the book of Philippians: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” Philippians 2:3

Jesus models this for us.  He saw that the woman at the well needed understanding; Zachaeus needed friendship; the leper needed to be touched; Thomas needed to see for himself.  Many miracles in the Bible began with a simple act of kindness.

What does that mean for us?  Well, we can’t perform miracles.  We won’t be able to heal the sick – but we can visit and pray with them.  We won’t be able to feed 5000 hungry people – but we can offer a bag of snacks to the homeless man on the corner.  We can’t give the frustrated clerk at the grocery store a new job – but we can be patient and wish him a blessed day.  Kindness isn’t a talent that only some of us have.  Anyone can be kind.  It simply involves choosing to notice the people around us and doing what we can to alleviate their suffering. 

Kindness is a humble virtue. It won’t earn you any worldly rewards.  You may not see any results.  However, on the day of judgement, you will hear:

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”  And that will be enough.

For more posts about kindness see:

The Kindness Crown

A Kind Word

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story–Movie Review

The Gift of Humility

“The triumph of grace is that we accept the humiliation of failure, which is indeed a triumph, a greater triumph than external success. In actual fact, the experience of failure in ministry teaches us in the long run how to do it, which is with complete dependence on God.”

Thomas Keating

Thomas Keating (March 7, 1923 – October 25, 2018) was an American Catholic monk and priest of the Trappist order. Keating was known as one of the principal developers a contemporary method of contemplative prayer known as Centering prayer.

For more about humility see these posts:

Rest in Humility

It’s Hard to be Humble!

Be Patient And Humble?

When You’re Sick #2

If you’ve been sick (as I have recently When You’re Sick), you may feel depressed and have trouble praying. If so, you can rely on “other peoples’ prayers” (Prayer in the Night by Tish Harrison Warren–Book Review) like this one. I found it helpful and comforting.

Lord, the day is drawing to a close, and like all the other days, it leaves me the impression of utter defeat. I have done nothing for You: neither have I said conscious prayers, nor performed works of charity, nor any work at all, work that is sacred for every Christian who understands its significance. I have not even been able to control that childish impatience and those foolish rancours which so often occupy the place that should be Yours in rhe “no man’s land” of my emotions. It is in vain that I promise You to do better. I shall be no different tomorrow, nor on the day that follows.

When I retrace the course of my life, I am overwhelmed by the same impression of inadequacy. I have sought you in prayer and in the service of my neighbor, for we cannot separate You from our brothers any more than we can we our body from our spirit. But in seeking You do I not find myself? Do I not wish to satisfy myself? Those works that I secretly termed good and saintly, dissolve in the light of approaching eternity, and I dare no longer lean on these supports that have lost their stability.

Even actual sufferings bring me no joy because I bear them so badly. Perhaps we are all like this: incapable of discerning anything but our own wretchedness and our own despairing cowardice before the light of the Beyond that waxes on our horizon.

But it may be, O Lord, that this impression of privation is part of a divine plan. It may be that in Your eyes, self-complacency is the most obnoxious of all fripperies, and that we must come before You naked so that You, You alone, may clothe us.

Marguerite Teilhard de Chardin

Mme. de Chardin was foundress of Union of the Sick in France during the 1930s.

For More prayers see:

Prayer to the Holy Spirit #2

Great and Small Prayers for Babies — Book Review

A Prayer of Surrender

Be Patient And Humble?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Colossians 3:12

Yes, there it is.  We’re commanded by God to be patient.  Patience is not one of my strong suits.  And humble?  That’s even more difficult.  Yet when I am feeling impatient with others, a good dose of humility is in order.  I’m sure there are plenty of people I irritate on a daily basis.  I know I exasperate God constantly.  If I’m honest, I even find my failure to live up to my ideals pretty annoying.  This quote from Thomas A Kempis was in my devotional reading this morning, and it really spoke to me.  Maybe it will resonate with you as well.

“Endeavor to be patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others, of what sort soever they be;  for that thyself also hast many failings which must be borne with by others. If thou canst not make thyself such a one as thou wouldst, how canst thou expect to have another in all things to thy liking?”

Make Me a Servant

When Kelly Willard was asked how her song, Make Me A Servant, came to be written, this is how she answered:

“Well, it’s pretty simple, what happened. I was at home, and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart saying very gently, “You know, you could stand to have a little more of a servant heart.” I went straight to my piano and began playing and singing this prayer…”Make me a servant, humble and meek, Lord let me lift up those who are weak…And, may the prayer of my heart always be, make me a servant, make me a servant, make me a servant today.” I still pray for a servant’s heart.”

Let Kelly’s plea sink into your heart and make you a servant today!

Mi Casa Uptown – a review

Mi Casa Uptown: Learning to Love Again by Rich Pérez is a good read if you are thinking, or are in, a urban setting or if you are thinking about doing missions work in the city.

Rich Pérez is from New York City; Washington Heights to be exact.  He left there to go to college and seminary and then returned to his neighborhood because he feels deeply about connecting with neighbors.  In this book he explains how we’ve become disconnected to our neighbors and how, with God’s help, we can become connected again.

One point that Rich makes that hit with me was that to engage in any community, humility is needed:

“Humility is a posture that demands intentionality and sacrifice; it demands a compelling example.  It’s sacrifice and not entitlement that inspires authentic relationship.  In the end, thriving communities are not monolithic communities, where one group or culture runs the show.  Instead, the kind of humility I’m referring to is revolutionary – quite literally helping to shift the way neighborhoods exist.  Humility inspires people to live differently toward on another and, more important, honors the stories that have existed before your own by dignifying them rather disregarding them.”

Even though I enjoyed this book, I had a hard time relating to it.  I come from a rural background and have never really engaged the Hispanic community.  Even so, I found quite a few “take-aways” about how to live in community.  I give this book a solid three stars.

Who Me?

Maybe you don’t think you’re not good enough to lead.  You have sins in your past (not to mention present);  you don’t have the right skill set;  you aren’t educated enough and so on.  If you feel this way, take a closer look at some of the great leaders of the Bible.

Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Abraham was old,… and Lazarus was dead. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the CALLED!

I’m not sure where this quote originated, but it hits the nail on the head.  Those Biblical heroes we admire had plenty of problems and flaws.  They weren’t perfect.  They didn’t get it right the first time. They often messed up more than once. They did have one big thing in common:  they loved God and they followed Him.  They allowed Him to take their lives, warts and all, and mold them into vessels He could use.  If you have that quality, you, too can be used by God to lead somebody.  Humility and dependence upon God are key qualities of Christian leadership.

I am reminded of a hymn written by Monsenor Cesareo Gabarin,  who was a  well known composer of Spanish liturgical music.  It’s called “Lord You Have Come to the Lakeshore” and expresses Gabrains’ admiration for the humble Christians he encountered during his ministry.  Here it is.  I think you’ll love it like I do: