Lessons on Humility: Herod the Great

Herod the Great had tremendous wealth, many wives, prestige and power, but one thing he lacked was humility. It was his pride that destroyed him. His lust for power and greed that brought him to ruin. No one mourned for his death, because of the selfish tyrant he had become.

Why do we spend so much of our time running after the very same things? The end result will be quite similar for us if we choose to run after such endless pursuits. Humility is the key to a life of contentment and thankfulness. 

Humility causes me to question my motives and be honest when I have acted selfishly. It crucifies my own self-centerdness and places me at the door of grace and mercy. Humility is where joy is found. After one humbles themselves they can look up where they are met with the grace of an all-forgiving Father whose mercies are new every morning.

Lord, forgive me of my selfishness. Truly, Father, it lives to destroy me. Yet, I have this hope- victory, found in Jesus name, Amen.

What Toys R Us and Bishops Buffet Taught Me About God

When I was a child I used to beg my mother to take us to Toys R Us. To me, it was a beautiful gold mine. A place filled with joy and treasures beyond compare. I would say things to my mom like, “Mom, can we please go, I just want to look, I promise, that’s it.” Of course, we all know, I didn’t just want to “look.” Once I got mom in the store, I’d wield my magic wand of winy child and desperately try to convince her that I did, in fact, need the newest New Kids on the Block coloring book (doesn’t everyone???)

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She, being smarter than a 5th grader knew the trap I was trying to put her into. Therefore, we rarely went to Toys R Us. She’d take us to Walmart instead. She was a smart mother and knew we wouldn’t want anything from there.

I can’t help but think I treat God the same way. Always asking with wrong motives and not understanding why He doesn’t come through for me when all the while, I just want to get what I want, because, well, bottom line, I just want it and in my own self-righteous attitude, I deserve it.

God, please help me land this promotion. Why? So you can get the praise and approval of people? God, bring in more money for us financially. Why, so you can spend it foolishly on more things you don’t need? God, change my spouse. Why? So you don’t have to change?

I constantly have to ask myself, Am I asking with right motives? What is behind this request? Am I being driven by pride, the desire to be seen by others, to have more, to be somebody or to indulge in pure selfishness or am I being driven by love and mercy as I present my requests to God?

When I as a kid, my mom loved eating at Bishops buffet, honestly, for her it wasn’t about the “real food” it was about the coconut cream pie. Quite frankly, I didn’t enjoy eating at Bishops. I’m currently having flashbacks of canned greened beans and funeral salad filling my eyes across that cafeteria style line, but I digress.

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I never asked my mom if we could eat at Bishops, but I knew it was important to her, so when she’d say, lets go to Bishops! (coconut creme pie alert) I’d say, OK mom, we can go there. Even as a child, I had moments when I understood, life isn’t always about me. What seems best for my mom right now is Bishops, so I’ll raise my fork to uncertain green beans and petrified jello salads, because I love my mom.

What if instead of asking God for the things we want, we asked Him what He desires most from us? Then, when He tells us, even though we might not want to do it, we humble ourselves understanding that life isn’t about us, so we submit and go His way, because, quite simply, we love Him and want to please Him?

We might get less of what we want, but we’ll certainly get more of what we need. Which, in the long run, is always best for us.

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” – James 4:3

YOU GIVE THEM SOMETHING….

“You give them something to eat”- Matthew 14:16

Jesus calls all men and women to give of themselves to serve someone else. In the feeding of the five thousand the disciples come to Jesus asking Him to send the crowds away so these folks can get themselves something to eat. However, Jesus puts the onus back on them. He says, YOU give them something to eat.

They find a few loaves of bread and fish, giving the little they have to the King of Kings. Jesus, by His power, multiplies it, feeding everyone in the crowd.

Jesus is asking us to do the very same when we see an injustice, or someone in need. He’s asking us to give of the little we have, so He may multiply it, showing off His glory for the world to see.

What do you have in your life that you can give as a sacrifice to Jesus? You may say, but, Heather, I don’t have much of anything. Yet, Jesus can take our seemingly insignificant things and transform them into something far greater, but we have to be willing let up on the grip of control. We have to recognize that everything we have comes from and is a gift from God. In reality, all we’re doing is offering what really belongs to God, back to Him.

Father, today we give our lives, our finances, our cars, homes, food, talents and time to you, because we know that you can maximize them for your kingdom. You can do far greater with a little, than we can do with a lot. Humble us when we hold on too tightly to the things we believe are ours. Use what little we have to make much of your Kingdom. In Jesus name, Amen.

Stop Running

If you have relationship struggles, chances are; it’s due to a deep insecurity or brokenness in either you or the other person. We would be wise to let others into those areas of our lives, so that we may be healed.

There is no person exempt from this reality, there are only those in hiding. This is why Jesus calls us to brings our whole selves out into the light, to experience the great depth of His healing that can truly set us from free from that which has held us in deep bondage for years. It’s His grace that penetrates the deepest and darkest places of our lives. It’s His mercy that fills our hearts with love and not shame. 

We must ask ourselves, is it worth it? Is it really worth, continuing to impress our insecurities on those we love the most? Maybe, it would be better to allow ourselves to become vulnerable, opening up ourselves with safe people, so we may experience freedom and have our hearts undergo a true metamorphosis.

Running from relationship to relationship does not heal our hearts. It only digs us into further hiding. We tuck away our hearts into deeper caverns of protection, walling up another area, blocking ourselves off from a place God longs to set us free from, believing somehow a new person, or a different relationship is what we really need. However, soon enough, relationship struggles will surface once again as we operate out of a reactive state, doing our best to keep our most precious insecurities hidden, while all the while damaging our most beloved relationships.

In order to live contrary to this, we must open ourselves up. We must be willing to say, I am broken, I am deeply insecure, but I’m trusting you, dear friend to walk with me on a path towards freedom. Trust is difficult if we have been hurt, but we can trust God. We can also trust those whom He has placed in our lives who walk in biblical wisdom and insight. Those folks who are full of grace, because they have walked the road of metamorphosis, allowing others in, trusting God and believing Him for their freedom.

Dear friend, I say this hoping maybe one person will read it and know that if you have been hiding and are tired of living there, please, come and talk to me. I have far from arrived or figured this whole thing out, but I have experienced the healing power of Jesus in my life. I have been set free from deep fears and insecurities and I’m in the process of being set free from even more of them as I join with dear friends who hold me accountable and point me towards the grace of God.

You are loved, there is no shame in what you have been through, done or experienced. There is grace for you, in Jesus name.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”- James 5:16

My Heart: An Idol Factory

I recognize more often than not, my heart is an idol factory, constantly producing idols to feed my own unhealthy needs for approval and validation. If I do not ask myself hard questions, I will certainly bow to their control.

I have even foolishly convinced myself and others the thing I was pursuing was “God’s will,” even when I knew all along, in the back of my mind, it was purely an idol my soul was desperately feeding upon.

This is why we need accountability in the body of Christ and friends who will ask hard questions, to save us from being destroyed by the idols we have set up in our own hearts. 

“Ephraim is oppressed, trampled in judgement, intent on pursuing idols.” – Hosea 5:11

The Family: On Mission

Youth ministry was never meant to be done in isolation from the rest of the church. This is why we are called the, “Body of Christ.” Teenagers need a plethora of adult mentors in their lives, pointing them to the truths of the gospel (Titus 2:1-5). They need parents who will live courageously; forming faith in the home, while engaging the culture around them with the gospel (Duet 6:7).

This means they become missionaries to the rest of their community, knowing their child was not placed on that sports team, dance squad or scholastic bowl team to win trophies or accolades, but to live on mission for God. As parent and child work together to bring the hope of the gospel, our youth will know and understand their life has great purpose in the Kingdom of God. 

Of course, their primary purpose should be to make their commitment to their local church family a priority, drawing healthy boundaries for their family, not allowing the pressures of the culture to steal their time away from worship with the family of God, in their local church setting.

As the family worships together in the body of Christ, the church is encouraged and revitalized. Youth experience the power of God being lived out in a church community who has chosen to make its purpose about furthering the kingdom of God, building healthy families and living open, honest; transparent lives.

Our youth need to experience life with the older generations. At some level we should seek to unite and engage the generations for the edification of the body of Christ.

The role of a youth minister is to equip and empower families to be the primary spiritual nurturers of their child. We should never seek to usurp the role of a Christian parent. We should always seek to empower them to become everything God has called them to be in His word. (Duet 6:7, Eph 6:4).

As the youth ministry co-champions with the family, growth begins to happen. Youth begin to see and experience the power of God. The church is encouraged, the family is strengthen and the world watches the power of God on display, through the people of God.

Finding Comfort in His Shade

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1

When I was a child I wanted to do everything my dad did, so I’d stay extra close to him; learning how I could be just like him. I was so close with my father, that my sister and I would fight over who got to sit on his lap during church. I remember the countless hours we’d spend in the yard learning how to kick field goals. He was someone who’s shadow I wanted to be near. I knew in my father’s shadow I was safe and protected. 

Resting in God’s shade is not much different. His shadow protects, offers peace and when we stay close to Him, we learn of His goodness, He teaches us of His love.

There’s peace there in His shadow, because to be in God’s shadow, we must be close to Him. To leave His shade is to leave His peaceful rest. Entering into His shade calms our worried hearts, allows us to forgive, and wipes away our fears.

Do not find yourself wandering away from God’s shadow, clinging to worthless idols and pursuits. Running after them only brings anxiety, fear and worry into our hearts and minds. I have been there, but today I’m choosing to rest in my Father’s house, close to Him, finding comfort in His shade.