Monthly archives: October, 2016

Pride, Humility, and Plagues

 

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“How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?”   –God

 

To my knowledge, this question never made it onto one of those black-and-white billboards seemingly penned by God Himself. What if it had? What would you have thought or felt? Anger from being offended? Ignorance, convinced it must be for someone else? Would the shock from God asking such a question have resulted in you crashing your car? Or would your mind have been spinning from thinking of all the ways you’ve not humbled yourself?

 

Though not on a roadside billboard, this penetrating question was asked by God and directed at Pharaoh (Ex. 10). By this point, Pharaoh and the Egyptians had experienced seven of the 10 plagues—bloody waters; swarms of frogs; gnats all over humans and animals; swarms of flies; pestilence affecting all livestock; boils on people and animals; and deadly hail and fire. He would not let the Israelites go. It would take three more—locusts, complete darkness, and death of all their firstborns—before he would relent. How long did he refuse to humble himself before God? Long enough! But time is irrelevant here. What stands out, instead, are the effects of pride and the link God makes with humility.

 

There are multiple effects of pride that could be mentioned, but focus on one of them—the plagues affected all of Egypt, not just the one to whom the question was directed. There is obvious application here. In our refusal to humble ourselves, others are impacted to some extent. Frogs may not fill their house (let’s hope not!), but they may not get to experience Jesus today. Your neighbor’s faucet may not start dispensing blood (can plumbers fix that?), but your ability to speak into their life may be hindered. This is enough to think about, but consider the alternative, as well.

 

To do so, look at what God says next: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.” This is significant! Pharaoh’s pride not only brought destruction on his own people, but also prevented the Israelites from doing what God created them to do—live in freedom and to serve Him. Would Pharaoh’s humility have had that much power? Would his act of humbling himself have actually allowed the Hebrews to live out the life for which God created them? It seems so.

 

And us—does our humility have such power, as well? Will our willingness and act of humbling ourselves allow others to live out the life for which God created them? Is God so bold as to link our humility with their potential? Why wouldn’t He? Didn’t He show us the same thing again with the life and death of Jesus?

His humility. Our freedom.

His humility. Our ability to serve Him.

His humility. Our abundant life.

His humility. Our potential.

 

We may not see such a poignant question on a billboard, but the question is still asked today and our choice, one way or another, will impact our relationships. Watch out for the locusts!


Encourage One Another

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You know that guy.

 

The person that everyone in the restaurant can hear talking over their own conversations at their tables. The one who loves to talk about…himself. How good he is at just about everything. How the company would be lost without him. The stories of how he saved the day.

 

 

Wow. That’s tiring.

 

 

On top of boasting about themselves to the point of ad nauseum, they’re typically what I deem a term from the old show Seinfeld; they’re a “Loud-talker”. They have one volume for their voice and it’s loud. Everyone at the table is left with the choice of looking rude and interrupting or quietly listening to this dude talk about himself for a ridiculous amount of time. “Me, me, me!”…it’s the thread of every topic.

 

 

You have that friend.

 

 

Your friend who (bless their heart) loves to post selfies way too often on social media. I’m all for posting fun pics, but there’s a line for taking too many of yourself, wouldn’t you agree? Whether they realize it or not, there is only one message that’s being communicated… “Me, me, me!”

 

 

None of us wants to be that person. Yet, even though it may look differently than the examples I mentioned, we are at times that person. We’re human. A part of the human race. And it is indeed a race. A race to talk about myself and make myself look better than everyone else.

 

 

I Corinthians 13 gives us a hint about what we should be talking about. It reminds us that life isn’t all about me. “Love…doesn’t boast.” The opposite of boasting in ourselves is building up – get this – others.

 

 

What if, when we receive a compliment this week at our jobs, we choose not to brag on ourselves, but give some of the credit away? What if we acknowledge that it wasn’t just us that made things happen. There’s a team of people working together. What do you lose? You only gain the respect of your co-workers/employees and they would be even more encouraged and motivated to work that hard next time.

 

 

Married friends, what if we do the opposite for our spouse as well?  What if we jump on that chance to celebrate what our husband or wife is so incredible at – with sincerity! (especially if your spouse is around and can overhear you!) They may blush from your encouraging words, but don’t you think that would make them feel valued and loved?

 

 

What if when we sit down at our next meeting or lunch appointment, we make the conversation about them. We ask how they’re doing. What’s going on in their life. How is it with their soul.

 

 

What if we dust off a pad of paper or a notecard and grab a pen? Write a handwritten note to someone and encourage them. I’m confident it would make them smile…maybe even bring a tear.

 

And definitely help them experience love.

 

 

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11

 

 

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Leslee has been married to her elementary school sweetheart, Jeff, for 21 years. They have two children: Lauren and Garrison and one adorable dog, Potato. Their family loves taking walks, traveling, going to Disney World and just about anything that allows them to spend time together.


When Contentment Is Enough

 

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Hurricane Matthew has been a great reminder this week of what is “enough”…of the little amount of things that we really need when it comes down to it. If you’re a planner like me, you may have gotten a few things together that were important to you just in case and put them in an extra safe place nearby.  As I gathered things together I noticed what I “needed” was a short list compared to what I normally would think.  I gathered the essentials.

 

When I look at the news on my phone or on TV, I’m confident those in the direct path of this horrible hurricane would agree with the verse, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.” – 1 Timothy 6:8 (The Mom in me however would have to say, “If I have food, clothing and my pictures of my babies” I will be content.J)

 

But, in reality, it has been said that our society is marked by “inextinguishable discontent”.  We want what we don’t have.  We want a better house with better furniture with a better view. We want a better marriage, and a better job and a better iPhone.  And, aren’t we all guilty of wanting the next experience – the next weekend, the next vacation, the next new thing? It’s never enough.

 

It seems that we are never satisfied…never content with what we have right in front of us. And when I say “we”, I’m definitely including myself. I remember when we were newlyweds; I wanted what my parents had accumulated over decades. When we didn’t have any kids yet, I desperately wanted a baby. When we purchased our first starter home, I wanted the established house. In my early 40’s, I can find myself wondering why people in their early 30’s seem to have it better than I did at their age or even do now. Why is it no matter what stage we find ourselves in, when we have enough, it doesn’t seem like it’s enough?

 

We hunger for the deep-down, satisfying kind of contentment that the Apostle Paul had (Philippians 4:12); yet, we struggle to attain it.  Our lack of contentment causes us to look around us at what others have so we’re not satisfied; but, contentment has everything to do with what is happening on the inside…not the outside.

 

Think about it, you hopefully have a beautiful family or people around you who love you, you have food, you have shelter, you have clothes. Would you like to have more funds to make more Target runs? Maybe. Would you like to have a more up-to-date, bigger house? Probably. Would you like to have your co-workers clothes or at least the job they have to afford to buy them? There’s a good chance of that.

 

But, enough is enough.  It really is. Only when we try to keep up with the Joneses or what society says we should or shouldn’t have do we feel robbed. Refuse to give in to this way of thinking. You have enough. Give thanks and be content.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world,

and we can take nothing out of it.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-7

 

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Leslee has been married to her elementary school sweetheart, Jeff, for 21 years. They have two children: Lauren and Garrison and one adorable dog, Potato. Their family loves taking walks, traveling, going to Disney World and just about anything that allows them to spend time together.


Love Is Kind

 

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Kindness sounds so easy doesn’t it? If you ask me whether I’d describe myself as kind, I’d say, heck yeah, of course. I think most of us would. But when I stop and reflect on it, maybe I’m not so kind after all.

 

I’d definitely describe myself as not, UN-kind, which is certainly easier than being kind, but that doesn’t make me kind. For me, being kind takes effort. It’s something I need to be intentional about. Whether it be on I4 when someone wants to merge into my lane and nobody’s letting them in – I can let them in. Or at work when someone seems overwhelmed and could use a little help or encouragement – I can offer to help. Or at lunch when someone’s eating alone – I can sit with them. Or at home when you know your wife’s had a long day and it’s her night to cook – clean the house up and have dinner ready when she gets home. These are all little, easy acts of kindness that may go unacknowledged, or unnoticed, and maybe you won’t even see their impact, or perhaps they’ll change someone’s day. Maybe they’ll give hope to hopeless. Love to the unloved. Maybe someone will see Jesus.

 

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? Like when the person in front of you in the Starbucks line pays for your coffee, or some unknown guest at a restaurant picks up your bill, or even when your boss lets you leave a little early? Feels good, huh? You instantly feel special. You feel loved. And usually, at least for me, it encourages me want to do something similar. It’s contagious.

 

This week I’d challenge you to be intentional about loving others through kindness. Do it daily. Do it at home. Do it at work. Do it where it’s toughest. And don’t do it for the attention, or to feel good about yourself. Do it because Christ calls us to love through kindness, and people need love. Your kindness might be the only love someone sees all day or all week.

 

“And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak,

be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong,

but always try to be kind to each other and everyone else.”

– I Thessalonians 5:14 & 15