Tag Archives: humility

Knowing When to Stop

It seems to me that not knowing when to stop, or at least step back and take a breather, is one of the bigger human failings going.

You’re already rich, yet driven to amass more wealth that you don’t really need and neither do your descendents, really.

You threw a punch, and then people are pulling you off the guy because somewhere along the line you decided your fist was a meat tenderizer and the guy’s face was a was a cheap cut of steak.

You’re a successful sports star who’s starting to feel the first signs of slipping, yet you won’t retire gracefully.

You find the time to have sex with dozens upon dozens of partners, yet you won’t take the time to slow down and get to know any one of them as a person to see if there’s a worthwhile relationship you could be having.

You get the idea.

Yet God wants us to stop now and again. Yes, as trite as it sounds, take a break, lean over, and smell the fucking roses. According to the Gospel of Matthew (in chapter 6, verses 25-34), Jesus admonished us that God loves the birds of the air well enough to make sure they get fed and the fields enough to make sure they flower in the spring, so why do we worry so much about where our next meal is coming from? Why don’t we seek after spiritual peace first, and then do our work?

Now, don’t get it twisted up. Jesus wasn’t telling us to sit on our collective asses and expect God to hand us everything. But he was trying to drive home that we shouldn’t be obsessing about what we need when we could simply be having faith in God that we have the skills we need and the means we need to get things taken care of. We shouldn’t be striving for more when we already have enough.

We should know when to stop.

When to stop so that we can get our bearings and ensure we’re still on the right road.

When to stop so that we can be thankful for what we have instead of looking for the next great thing.

When to stop so that other who love us can catch up to us and get some of our time.

When to stop so that we don’t go over a friggin’ cliff.

So be patient, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious crop from his land, being patient with it until it receives the fall and the spring rains. (James chapter 5, verse 7)

The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit. (Ecclesiastes chapter 7, verse 8)

I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. (Psalm 40, verse 1)

Let your hope be in the Lord: take heart and be strong; yes, let your hope be in the Lord. (Psalm 27, verse 14)

Yes, there is a time for everything. A time to plant and a time to sow. A time to laugh and a time to weep. A time to take up arms and a time to pound them into tools instead.

And, yes, a time for action.

But also, a time to just stop.

Feeling Special by Miz Pink

Who doesn’t wanna feel special…right? I mean a compliment here, a bit of flattery there, a slap on the back for a job well done. We all want some kinda validation and unsolicited love.

There’s nothning wrong with that but we need to be careful that when we’re getting a fair amount of it, we don’t let it go to our heads. See that’s the problem that popular people have, whether it’s the chick who’s been head cheerleader and prom queen and president of the class and is dating the super-hot dude on the baseball team…or whether it’s a celebrity on an ego trip…or whether it’s me or you.

When you’re popular or cute or talented, you can get hit with lots of praise and you start to think that you crap roses and fart perfume. You get caught up in who others think you are and you start to think you’re special and people who get less praise than you aren’t

But even those of us who don’t get praised and adored and lusted after and pumped up on the regular can still fall prey. A dude who’s been married a long time, and suddenly 20-year-olds are giving him a little flirty action and he steps out on the wife. Or you’re at work and you’re doing well with the boss and you start to think you don’t need to hang around the water cooler or that you can shirk your work and pass the weight along to your lessers. Or people tell you how healthy you look and you neglect to actually go to the doctor so you can find out about that cholesertol problem that’s gonna kill you in another 8 or 10 years.

So, a few words on that from the Bible writing folks…

St. Paul – Colossians: “Masters, do unto your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”

Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. (Proverbs 27:2)

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (St. Matthew 23:12)

Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. –2 Philippians 2:3

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 26:12)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)

Keep it real, folks, and don’t let yourselves get too much into believing your own press.

A Good Poverty

feet-washingIn trying to find inspiration for a post tonight, despite being in a somewhat funky state of mind, I lighted upon chapter 5 of the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus lays out the eight Beatitudes as the kickoff for his Sermon on the Mount.

I realized, for the first time and with much embarrassment, that I haven’t really read the Beatitudes closely enough, because the first one threw me off.

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

First thing I keyed in on was the word “poor,” but that probably has a lot to do with finding out today that one of the few clients who gives me monthly work is cutting me back to every other month.

Next I looked at the whole phrase poor in spirit, and I couldn’t figure out why that would be a good thing. I’ve been born again for years, I’m a deacon, and I had no clue what the hell “poor in spirit” was supposed to be. It sure sounds like not having faith or letting things get you down.

So, I did a little quick research, and learned that poor in spirit basically means humility.

One site I found discussing the Beatitudes put it this way:

Humility is the realization that all your gifts and blessings come from the grace of God. To have poverty of spirit means to be completely empty and open to the Word of God. When we are an empty cup and devoid of pride, we are humble. Humility brings an openness and an inner peace, allowing one to do the will of God.

Well, I’m not liking the financial constipation I’m currently enduring, but I am wishing I had a bit more of the kind of poverty noted above. Because as humble as I may think I am, I’m clearly not humble enough yet.

Wild Wednesday: Conspicuous Christianity

OK, so I messed up. Miz Pink e-mails me yesterday with something along the lines of: “Uh, Deacon, I have a third kid. Could you maybe tell me what the Two-fer Tuesday topic is BEFORE Tuesday?”

So, yeah, I forgot about Two-fer Tuesday. All my fault. So, to make up for it, we’ll mash me and Miz Pink into one post (seriously, Mrs. Blue, it’s purely platonic; more like playing Twister than anything sexually scandalous). We’ll call it Wild Wednesday (stupid, I know) and we’ll take turns on the topic of:

Conspicuous Christianity

Deacon Blue says…

christian-bumper-stickersThere is, sometimes, a fine line between proclaiming Jesus and wearing one’s Christianity proudly, on the one hand, and being a complete douchebag on the other hand.

I live in a town that is large enough to technically be a city (I guess) but small enough that I see the same folks over and over. And the same cars over and over. There are some notable ones that are festooned with bumper stickers and windshield stickers and sometimes big painted signs that proclaim that driver’s devotion to Jesus.

These visible reminders of the person’s piety remind us to follow the ten commandments, keep God as the co-pilot, to revile Charles Darwin as a godless heathen bastard who pissed in our collective Christian Cheerios, value life, honk if we love Jesus and so many other things.

God help me, I just want to smack many of these people.

It’s not that I’m against letting people know you’re Christian. By all means, we should be proud to follow Jesus Christ. It’s not that I’m against sharing your feelings. I have a bumper sticker that supports the value of unions and another one that proclaims the mistreatment of farm workers.

But moderation and tact are useful here. I think two bumper stickers is plenty. Three tops. But I see vehicles that sport five, six, eight, ten stickers. One car I see nearly every day has so many sticker about pro-life stuff and some very Catholic sentiments that the driver might just as well have one bumper sticker that says: “Follow the way of the Roman Catholic Church or ye shall suffer eternally!”

There is a truck I see every few weeks in the grocery store parking lot near my house that has so many signs protesting the practice of abortion, most of them huge wooden signs with big painted diatribes that are attached to the sides of his vehicle, that he might just as well have a couple that say what he really wants to say: “I hope all of you bitches who’ve ever had abortions burn in hell!”

It’s not just Chrisitians who do this. There are some obnoxious pagan-oriented bumper-sticker crazed drivers and a few “guns are great and we should raze the forests to the ground” oriented cars. But I’m talking about the conspicuous Christians today, so those other folks don’t matter.

I guess what I’m saying is that we need to determine if we are really lifting up Jesus, or if we are screeching so loud that we turn people away from him. Bumper stickers can be cool, but only in small amounts, and they are highly unlikely to make anyone consider becoming born again.

Miz Pink says…

pink-crossIf I am doing my job right as a Christian…as someone who’s supposed to spread the gospel…I shouldn’t have to tell you I’m Christian. You should be able to see in my actions that there is a peace and a strong center in my life and see the “light of Christ” shining from me. If I’m doing what I should be doing.

And when you see that light, you should be able to notice some little thing, like a simple little gold cross around my neck or some small religious oriented trinket on my desk…or whatever…and be able to know that I follow Jesus.

Or, if you are having troubles in life…something that faith and being born again might begin to fix, you should be able to see that I get through nasty things in life with some sense of peace and humility and be able to ask me what keep me going…so that I can tell you who and what it is that does keep me going.

If I have to shout from the rooftops that I am a Christian or if I have to wave my faith in front of your face, I probably haven’t done my job right.

Instead, I’m probably like those priests in Jesus’s time that had the long robes and phylactries on their arms and said loud prayers so that people could see how devout they are.

That’s so wrong. That’s not doing the job God set out for us.