Carry On, But Humbly

Photo credited to stewartmorris.

Aren’t you glad that God is no respecter of persons?  James 2:9,   I love our God, who sees our hearts and loves us and uses us in spite of that.  He sanctifies us even as he uses us.  No one but God is quite so confident in us.  Often we aren’t even confident in ourselves.  Thank God He can take our mumblings and our bungled efforts and bring glory to Himself through them!  Did you mess that task up or not fulfill it to perfection?  Great.  It is more usable by a God who looks at your heart and is pleased with any humility that He sees there.

Has the newness worn off of your welcome somewhere?  You are just as favored with God!  He never changes.  Did someone make you feel you weren’t up to par or as qualified?  Well guess what?  Your God does not think that way when He burdens your heart.  Acts 10:34.  Imagine a God who just looks at our heart, where it is right now.  No past failures.  No achievements.  No positions.  No titles.  The only qualifications listed here are those who fear Him and do what is right.  Ahhh….what a relief.  Though we can never reach perfection, through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we are sanctified to carry out whatever God places in our hearts.  Let’s not get hung up on whether someone thinks we should hold a position to do this or that, or whether we look good enough.  1 Sam. 16:7 and Rom. 2:11

Have you given all that you can monetarily or with your time and it still doesn’t look like someone else’s efforts?  To God, you may look like the widow who gave nearly nothing, but He knew it was far more sacrificial than the others.  Luke 21: 1-4.  So keep giving and focusing on the One who knows all.  If you find yourself paying attention to what others think or comparing, (and who doesn’t from time to time!), you have just bought into the pride trap.  A common trap that we need to disentangle from as often as moment by moment.   In his book, “Mere Christianity”, C.S. Lewis says “According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind…”  He also says “the more we have it in ourselves, the more we dislike it in others”.  Ouch.  Again, time to refocus and often!

Another area pride leaps inside us is when we have been treated unfairly or unjustly, and the most difficult mistreatment is with some public consequence.  It is a hard test to be still when this happens and takes some working through!  But Jesus set that ultimate example on the cross.  I read a testimony of a very difficult trial a pastor went through and am challenged by his example.  You may be interested in reading his story on his blog.  I am inspired by several other people (including my family) and pastors in my life in this area as well.  Thank God for humble examples.

And lastly, it just helps to focus on others as more important than yourself.  Phil. 2:3 , Rom. 12:10  As God’s love moves you into action, everything but God’s approval becomes irrelevant.   Here is a great post on Love Moves.   So as we revel in that undeserved love God lavishes on us, we can more easily smile no matter what is going on around us or how much favor or lack of it we may feel is being shown us.

Cozy at Home with Coffee

I love waking up to a day when I don’t have to go anywhere and can read, do chores and sip coffee.  Did I mention coffee?   But first I pray before I ever put my feet over the side of the bed, because I know I am too easily sidetracked.  Very soon after, I find myself in the kitchen flipping on the espresso machine button and starting to heat water in the kettle for French press coffee.

Ahh…a hot latte with steamed milk on a cold morning.  For this I grind a couple coffeespoons of expresso roast beans or dark Sumatra beans.  Can’t get them too bold.  Tamp the finely ground coffee down into the two ounce coffee basket in the coffee filter and attach to espresso machine.   Then I coarsely grind a cup of lighter roasted beans for French pressing.

I put a small glass carafe underneath the espresso filter.  The hot water sends a high pressure stream into the carafe.  I shut if off when it is at a couple ounces and is just starting to turn white with crema.

I pour about a half cup of skimmed milk (my preference) into a coffee cup and give it a head start heating via my microwave.   But the latter is optional.
Then it is steamed until it bubbles and foams.  This is where small disasters are not uncommon, but it is worth it.

And pour the two together.  Beautiful.  Oh and it tastes great, too.  Jacob’s favorite version is espresso over ice and milk.  Come to think of it we all like that version when we’re in a hurry, especially in hot weather.

Flavor only if you are in the mood and can afford to add about 35 calories per pump to your habit.  For those occasions I love putting a half pump of cherry together with a half pump of almond.  Or using a couple drops of my daughter’s friend’s homemade vanilla extract, which is not sweet.

During this process, we are not left coffeeless, because Sylvia keeps her little teapot going and we all must drink from the cups she brings us all throughout the day.  She is quite the server and doesn’t seem to mind us two timing her efforts with our own cup beside the one she gives us.

By now the kettle is whistling, so  I put the coarsely ground coffee  into the French press pot and add hot water to the top.

I add some hot water into the coffee thermal carafe also, just to heat it up and help it keep the coffee hot all day.

Then after the french press pot has brewed  for three minutes, I dump the water out of the thermal carafe, add coffee and put on lid.  Done.  Ready for my Fed Ex man to fill his mug for the day when he stops in on his way through every morning.  Though I would share coffee with anyone, he does happen to be my husband.  🙂

It is also ready for my teens to pour from if they want.  Hannah loves to grab one of these cups and pour coffee even if she leaves half of it.  It just seems to say something like…cozy at home, even while we do our work.

And being cozy and content at home is worth teaching in our too busy society.

Titus 2:5

They Had Everything in Common

Have you ever wondered why there does not seem to be a satisfactory likeness in most of our churches today to the one described at the end of the second chapter of Acts?  Acts 2:44-46  This was after Christ had died, rose from the grave, walked among them, and ascended.  Their hearts were set on fire by the Holy Spirit and any fears and doubts that had nagged at them while Christ hung on the cross were subdued in the hushed atmosphere of the greatest and most redeeming miracle ever.  They were finally “getting the big picture”; in spite of the fact that these were just the beginning of very difficult days for believers.  In retrospect, some of the things that Jesus had said to them became crystal clear now.   Verses 44-46 say they “had everything in common”, shared their possessions, and “devoted themselves to meeting together”.  These meetings were both at the temple and from house to house.

One of my Sunday School quarterly commentator’s, Lynn Pryor (see footnote), says they were bound by 1) their purposeful unity of soul and spirit, 2) radical and sacrificial stewardship convictions, 3) their common witness of Christ, and 4) God’s prevailing grace, which was both unmerited and yet also God’s response to their benevolent activity and to their bold witness.  If these elements are the correct link to unity, it is easy enough to see why we have not quite arrived yet.  Most of us Christians, at least here in America, have the first one down (let’s hope anyway), but could probably improve in some of the other areas.  And I speak to myself!


Yet, we, at large, have a yearning for close community, and as believers, especially in the church body.  That yearning is often filled elsewhere, and there is certainly nothing wrong with seeking close and appropriate relationships elsewhere.  The problem seems, to me, to be that with our overfilled schedules, there is only a small amount of time and effort most can afford to expend on filling those needs.  It is natural to develop meaningful relationships in the work place or where ever a significant amount of our time is spent.  Another place where relationships are forged is through various types of electronic means. For better or worse, there is a need for relationships that are beyond just casual acquaintances.  There are plenty of sources of Godly encouragement to be found online, though granted, it is not like a friend sitting down for tea or coffee with you.  Here is a great place to go for daily encouragement:

People will often seek to fulfill appropriate relational needs in one way or another, even if it is some other means of comfort while attempting to dull an empty ache.  According to Pryor, “We live in a fragmented society where people have many shallow acquaintances, but few have deep relationships….Maybe the New Testament writers were onto something when they penned the ‘one another’ instructions – love one another, serve one another, encourage one another, pray for one another – that’s what people want.  That’s what people need.  And the church is the best place to offer it.”

So besides improving on the four links that should bind us together, I say we also need to start making time for these relationships.  These believers were aware of others needs.  Whether or not these needs were of a temporary nature while believers gathered in Jerusalem, I do not know and it is not my point.  These were genuine needs; not just wants.  But they could only have become aware of others needs as they spent time “from house to house”.  They did not just meet in one or two houses, or the finest ones (had there been any), but likely with everyone, and if someone didn’t have a home, well they were provided for somehow. There had to have been openness and vulnerability and it was valued and respected.  As they spent time together I’ll wager they had time for more than a distracted look while their friend was speaking.  I’ll bet they knew pretty well what to pray for without checking the bulletin, not that a bulletin is not a great tool for remembering (or becoming aware!). It’s just that these friendships were real and they had a love for each other and an intimacy with each other that was personal.

I wonder if they had more time and energy to devote to one another  because all ages lived out this community together.  The adults were not worn out and neglected (nor their homes or family) at the expense of myriads of programs for children.  When something needed to become age appropriate it was likely done naturally, in the same way that it is done in a family setting.  That doesn’t mean someone didn’t pull the kids or youth aside now and then.  Jesus took time out for the children on their level and chastised the disciples for wanting to send them away. Matthew 19:13-14  I believe it just means that children and youth were a vital and needed part in serving the others in the body and this also surely helped them not self focus or focus soley on missions “out there” or the next big youth project, rather than needs right around them.

I believe God will perfect his church, Christ’s bride.  Whatever it takes to cause us to be perfected in the area of unity will surely be served up to us sooner or later.  I think it will take some radical changes in how we think and act, not just how we talk.  Maybe I have not hit on the areas that you think would help the church, at large, have everything in common.  What do you think is needed to steer us that direction?

Footnote:  Life Focus Leader Guide  for teaching ages 12-17 Volume 5, Number 1 Fall 2012 Nov. 11 lesson