Category Archives: Pride

Without Wings

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  James 4:10

There are plenty of things crafted by the Master’s hand that goes counter to all things understood.  In many ways we would consider these things “exceptions” to whatever rule they seem to break.  For instance, the Platypus, an ostrich-headegg-laying mammal — seems a bit odd, don’t you think?  Let’s consider the Bat, a flying mammal — blind none-the-less — still a bit odd.  How about a Penguin?  A bird, that swims!  Speaking of birds, what’s up with the Ostrich?  A bird that has wings, but cannot fly!  Imagine if it could though — wow!

God is the only one that can get away with this kind of “exception-al” thinking or doing!  It truly demonstrates the mastery of His design.  When we try to apply some of these same exceptions to things created by human hands, it doesn’t quite run the same “exception-al” rules.  For instance, we don’t drive boats on the road, nor can we get a hot-air balloon to lift with water!  Perhaps more so, we have yet to create or design a plane that could fly without wings.  It just doesn’t happen.

But beyond all things tangible things, God also created a relationship that is truly “exception-al.”  It is built with love at it’s core, faith as it’s fuel and hope in it’s veins.  All of which assume their own “exception-al” design.  Further, God reminds us that in order to be more like Him we must humble ourselves before Him and man. Seems “exception-al” to me!!  In essence, He says, deflate your pride and I will make you soar on the wings of eagles!  What?

He has designed us without wings — yet, He has promised to lift us high if we are to humble ourselves.  That means making life all about Him and little about me!  That means saying, “I wanna do life Your way, not my way!”

Thank you Lord Jesus for doing an “exception-al” work in me!  You designed me to love the unlovable, to worship the God of the universe, to soar without wings, to taste and see!  Continue to show your immeasurable love to me each day as I learn more about dropping my pride to the curb!

by:  Mark Cruver

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Filed under Faith, Hope, Humility, In Christ, Life, Love, Pride, Surrender, Trust, Truth, Uncategorized

Yesterday Looms Tomorrow

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You re a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes.  All such boasting is evil.  If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.  James 4:13-17

Sometimes days are predictive.  At other times the days ahead can be as mysterious and anxious as a haunted house.  It’s amazing how deep our minds can dig into the plans we have for ourselves in looking toward tomorrow.  Unfortunately, our culture, perhaps our bent, is to gather from yesterday and build a structure of our own tomorrow.  While there is a place to look back to learn from history, it is a dangerous practice in trusting the Lord and living for Him each day.

In the book of Genesis, Lot’s family was granted a pardon by God to flee the city of Sodom.  But as they did, they were to not look back.  They were to remain focused on where they were going, not where they had been.  And as God rained down fire upon Sodom, Lot’s wife could not help herself and turned back to look.  It was a costly mistake as she turned to a pillar of salt.

Granted, people aren’t turning to pillars of salt for looking back on yesterday, but there is a lesson (many lessons actually) here, demonstrating obedience, a pursuit of God’s will, a focus to things to come, the plans He has for me!

And it may be true that my yesterday looms today, but God has gone before me and built my tomorrow!  It is today that I live in yesterday’s tomorrow God made just for me!  And today, well, He is shaping my tomorrow and whispers in my ear — “Just wait and see what I have planned for you!”

May I not boast of my tomorrow and blame yesterday for it!  Instead, may I lift my eyes to the Heavens, in front of me and rejoice in knowing that today was yesterday’s stage for my tomorrow!

The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.  Psalm 118:24

by:  Mark Cruver

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Filed under Belief, Blessings, Christian Living, Life, Praise, Pride, Trust

I Believe I Know

My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.  Psalm 131:1-2

What a most perfect place to be . . . the stillness of my soul in the bosom of God — Author and Finisher — Grace and Truth.  It is the essence of peace and contentment, where nothing can substitute satisfied longings and needs of the soul.  But then again, if only I believed enough to trust in depth the truth of His grace on me.  How this must sadden His heart.

Yeah, we’ve all seen it a time or two.  The little child who finished his last Cheerio and wants more!  The puppy that hasn’t quite had enough belly rubbing!  Or, the teenager who got a car for his birthday, but it wasn’t the one he wanted.  We can be so needy can’t we?  Never satisfied . . . never content.  Yet, Christ has called us to “rest” in Him.

There are so many things I think I need, things I must do now or changes I need to make in order for other things to happen.  Are they really that urgent?  I believe I know exactly what I need and I forget to ask, look or consider that you are actually still very much in control of my life and all that it entails.  The outcome of all I do is prescribed through you!  You are still, very much, on the throne and you love me and want only the best for me.  Why must I consider to put me first?

Lord Jesus, I long in my heart every moment of drawing closer to resting in your Spirit and living in content of all you give.  I want nothing more than to no longer beg in my heart or whimper from my spirit for those things I believe I know I need.  Instead, I choose to trust in you in all things for you are good!

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.  Psalm 34:8

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Filed under Christian Living, Faith, Grace, In Christ, Peace, Pride, Rights, Trust, Truth

Getting Wronged By Rights

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”   Luke 15:31-32

Pride is a wonderful thing, don’t you think?  Not the kind of pride that comes through accomplishments or belief in another, but the kind that is filled with self-righteous arrogance and the lack of understanding who God is and the fact that you’re not Him.  No, not so wonderful . . . it inflates the flesh!

Do you think Adam or Eve dealt with pride?  We don’t read much in the way of life after the fall but for little snippets that shed a little light upon the groans of a broken world.   I would suspect that there was some pride during the time when Adam and Eve were banished from the garden.  The emotions, the attitudes, the lack of fellowship with God had to have been filled with moments of absolute grief and loss.  The only place they had ever known was the Garden of Eden and despite all that was made for their pleasure, none was truly theirs anymore.  Suddenly, the first family was without the amenities of sin-free existence.

I can only imagine a few conversations about how they couldn’t be treated like this . . . or how they shouldn’t be treated like this.  How too, I suspect, they both questioned why they were designed, created and given life.  After all, the serpent convinced them that they knew better than God — that their plan far outweighed God’s plan.  They were wronged by rights.

The sense of entitlement that both Adam and Eve likely felt is not unlike the rights we feel we have when something we think belongs to us is taken away.  Much like Adam and Eve, when we take our eyes off the Designer and focus on the measure of me and what I am going to gain, we immediately lose sight of the promises that come through the union of Grace and Truth.

One of my favorite authors, Bill Gillham, writes about it so well in his book Lifetime Guarantee.

Stop fighting it, brother.  Give up all your “rights”–all talents, all abilities, all gifts, all the things you’ve clung to to get your need met for self-acceptance.  You’ll love the results!  You will find “life” through allowing Him to express Himself through your talents, your abilities, your fights, and your personality to a hurting world to do His will.  That’s the way Jesus walked.  He let the Father do it through Him.  (p. 201)

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that I don’t have to think that what I feel is rightfully mine is being squandered.  But instead, I can know that what I have is everything because you live within me!

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Filed under Favorite Quotes, Pride, Rights

Murdering Hope

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.   Ephesians 4:31-32

I don’t have a clue what just happened, but I know who did it!  It was a team effort, they worked together and while they carefully manipulated the moment in their favor, the next move determined the fate of hope.  Unfortunately however, this murderous moment is not so uncommon and repeats itself virtually every day and often more than once.

Whether its like last night when I couldn’t find the ice cream scoop or yesterday when someone pulled into the parking spot I had been waiting on, it’s as though, as some say, someone just “peed in my cornflakes” and the smell of murder fills the air.  It’s when the sidekick accomplice of pride and entitlement lend their support to the masquerade.  When my friend speaks the truth and when family seems to turn their back, the characters begin to prepare for hope’s assassination.  There is nothing good that comes from the acts of resentment and bitterness — together they murder hope — and everyone gets hurt!

It seems like hope doesn’t have a fighting chance in this orchestrated tale of events, but hope has a few tricks up it’s sleeve just the same.  The lord over resentment and bitterness is lies themselves.  Hope is drained through the lies I choose to believe — both of myself and others.  Standing firm however, on the promises that Christ alone IS my everlasting Hope ushers in THE very thing that unravels the plans brought about by lies through resentment and bitterness.  When the ploy is revealed, hope lives!

Lord Jesus, while this story is silly in nature, it conveys a familiar pattern of destruction that so easily entangles.  I know who wins this and I know that hope through you is all the hope that is needed.  Jesus, I’m asking that you continue to heal me and guard my heart from resentment in the little, daily things, but more so, guard my attitude from bitterness and remind my mind of the fullness of my faith in you and the untrustworthiness of my emotions.

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.  

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.  

Lamentations 3:19-26

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Strength In Me

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14

These verses from Philippians sustained me throughout my years in college.  I turned to them often and displayed them on every page, poster or mirror I could find as a reminder that I hadn’t arrived, permission to forget and confirm the fact that today’s race felt more like an Iron Man event — without training!

The common theme from then and now is the strength I find in making it through that day . . . either then or right now.  And as I reflect I see a startling pattern of self-inflicted, superimposed godness — not goodness — upon my ever being.  My strength in victory as well as defeat has been out of the arrogance of my own heart and fervency of my own abilities and the lack of need for anything, or anyone, else.  Habakkuk 1:11 says it well, “Then they sweep past like the wind and go on — guilty men, whose own strength is their god.”  Never had I imagined that one of my gods was my own strength.  But, looking back, far and near, I see the pattern of dependence, the island of fortitude that I built that would ultimately lead to a crashing world where few pieces were left tangible.  Living with Habakkuk as your true motto, but shrouded by the mantra of Philippians succeeds in the misguided dependence on my own self to lay claim to victory.

And so, here I stand, wanting to press on, wanting to forget, wanting to strain for that prize — the temptation is to trust in my own abilities to get through it all.  But my heart will always be dissatisfied until it rests in Him and Him alone.  It not only is a place of refuge, but of ultimate and pure strength — unadulterated by the generic.

So it is true, in my weakness I am strong when Christ is my King and my strength is His.  I can only do because He does!

My Jesus, in my weakness . . . not so much in temptation, but more so when I make my strength my god, remind me of when you took up residence in my life.  Remind me then of those moments when you were undoubtedly present, when you moved through my heart and my whole body witnessed a taste of your glory as you met me there.  Remind me of the victory you have and that my adequacy is found only in you (II Corinthians 3:5).

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.  They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.   Psalm 84:5-7

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Passive Attentive

Dear Lord Jesus, I can think of many things in my life, both past and present, that by definition fall into the category:  destructive.  Whether it be patterns of negative behavior or attitudes from the flesh, I know I have what it takes to single-handedly make a mess of everything.  This is no surprise to you.  I’m so thankful you are a God of restoration!

However, the sealing off of negative thoughts and inconclusive moments in my world have been conduits of passive aggressive behavior in my relationships.  You have spoken to me this morning as clear as the sun is shining and answered my prayer.

Awareness of your presence and the familiar tone of your voice are but refreshments to my weary mind and aching heart.  I am guilty of being passive attentive to your Spirit within me and when I neglect to listen, my doer listens to other things.  I hurt, others hurt, I no longer trust, others cannot trust — it’s not your plan.

I know I need to listen to you in all things, becoming actively attentive to your Spirit within.  Remind me of the power I have in you!  In your precious and Holy name, Jesus Christ, Amen!

We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  I John 4:19-20

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Filed under Love, Prayer, Pride, Rights, Surrender, Trust

Abiding and Doing and Praying, Oh my!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

It has been throughout my entire life that I have lived and placed myself under the law of Christianity.  Like an anvil on my heart and mind, the law has taught me to be a slave, to answer to it’s judicial ways.  Without realization, I have shaped my view of Christianity into nothing more than religiosity and with that guilt, shame and failure always follows.

But I am not subject to the burden of the law because I have been set free through the life of Christ living in and through me.  And it is in this spot I find myself this morning.  Thinking on how I abide in Him, thinking on what I do to measure up and reflecting on what conversations I have with Him.  Why these things?  Well, it’s me taking a look at me in the mirror, asking and seeing if today I’m in the will of my Father.  It’s me getting snagged up on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and examining my own heart of joy and measure of thanks in all things in continual prayer.

I have become so very proud of my own journey.  Look at me!!  And in it, I have come to establish my own routines of prayer and writing, finding comfort and worth in my own efforts to transform me. (There’s a whole lot of me in this!)  But there is NO amount of me that has the power to transform anything about me!  There is NO level of commitment or consistent routine that will reward me.  The temporary glue to hold my own fruit to the vine will never remain.  But the fruit that grows from the vine of Christ that lives in and through me will nourish the soul forever!  This comes when I abide in Him!

I remember one season when I planted in my garden sweet potatoes for the first time.  Not really knowing what I was doing and only with an idea of how it was done I planted the small potato eyes and walked away.  That harvest season I had more sweet potatoes than I knew what to do with — a true abundance!  This is exactly how Christ wants us to abide in Him always!  And when I do, the abundance of fruit from the heart will be more than enough.  It’s a way of leaning, a way of communicating, a way of letting.  For Christ who lives in me is my life!

Lord Jesus, I never want to get caught up in the religiosity of serving you!  My relationship is not a set of laws, but covered in an abundance of grace, through your unconditional love for me and rests in your hands.  My schedule is not your will unless it is your schedule for me.  May I journey abiding in you, in all things, always!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23

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Allow or Try

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.   Colossians 3:4

My whole life I have tried hard to be something I am not.  I wished it weren’t so, but the amount of energy I have spent in my futile attempts to live at being the best Christian I could possibly be has fallen just short of exhausting.  It has robbed me of experiencing the life God has intended and exchanged it for dependence upon false fulfillment and a crisis of identity.  My heart rejoices in knowing this treasure of realization has been discovered, but is coupled by sadness as with it has been a lifetime of destruction.

Lord knows I have tried and in my efforts only found the worthless jewel of failure.  But why?  Kudos to me for getting back upon the horse each time, but why am I so apt to fall off so many times over?  Are my efforts in vain?  Am I not good enough?  Am I just that horrible of a Christian?  Even Paul cries out about himself, “What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:24)

But I am reminded of the life I NOW live!  A life not of worthlessness, but instead — victory!  Not because of anything I can do, but because of everything He has done.  It is not me trying to measure up to certain standards or conditions in order to demonstrate the life I ought to live, but instead finding the correct Who in which to use as a reference point to measuring up.  See, my reference point is no longer me trying to live a certain way and hiding failure from those I love, instead it is allowing Christ who is MY life live out who He is through me so that I may be a glory-carrier!

I cannot live the Christian life, only one person can do that and that is Christ!  So as long as I continue striving to live up to a standard of doing what the Bible says, doing all the right things, treating everyone a certain way, being to everyone what they think I should be, then of course, I’m going to fail.  Because I have to learn how to allow Christ, as my life, to radiate through me!  I have to learn more about what it means to allow Christ to live His life through me.  When I do — my actions no longer reflect a neediness, my attitude no longer drips with pity, my relationships reflect Christ’s love and my life springs with uncontainable glory!

Lord Jesus, I devote myself to allowing your life to live through me!  It says in your word (Romans 6) that through sin the parts of my body are offered as instruments of wickedness, but when I offer myself to you, I offer the parts of my body as instruments of righteousness.  This, I know, is how I live ‘Christ is my life!’  Today, and everyday, I offer the parts of my body as your instruments.  May I pause at the door frame of sin and allow you to live through me!

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.   Romans 6:14

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Confident Trust

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”   Matthew 11:28-30

Troubles, like stones, come in many shapes and sizes.  Some are as huge as boulders, while others are as sharp as daggers.  Some are used to step from place to place — perhaps to higher and drier ground, while others are used to carve and sharpen.  But then there are those that weigh a ton — sink to the bottom, as others skip across the calm waters to disappear after the dance.

It’s funny, too how we collect stones!  I can’t tell you the number of times one of my son’s has filled his pockets with rocks.  I’ve often wondered how many could possibly fit in there before his belt no longer served it’s purpose!  That many rocks and stones gets heavy to carry around.  But it’s not unlike how we treat our troubles.  We tend to collect those too!  Hoarding them on the inside, burdening ourselves and others around us with the weight.

But this was never God’s intent!  There was never a doubt we would encounter troubles — in fact, James said we would and they would be “trials [troubles] of many kind.”  But what do I do with the many I encounter?  I think, like the collector, I want to carry them around with me.   I want to show them off like war wounds from the battlefield.  Why in the world would I want to do this?  Well, simply because I make my troubles all about me instead of living them through Christ in me.

The precious stone, like quartz, reflects its natural beauty when light shines through it.  When Christ’s light shines through my troubles, the beauty of who I am reflects Christ in me!  God wants me to live through my troubles, not live my troubles over and over.  He wants me to live who I am!  He wants me to relax in His Peace and stop reliving my suffering.  Resting in Him will truly transform my fears into confident trust!

Lord Jesus, I store up my stones like a chipmunk prepares for winter!  Your burden is light, but when I’m carrying my troubles I’m weary.  You’ve promised me rest in you and I’m unloading my pockets of the stones I’ve collected.  Big or small, I’m skipping them across your Peace, watching them dance upon your Grace and trust as they disappear in your Care.

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”    Joshua 1:5

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