The Place of Humility

RinaPeru's photo

RinaPeru's photo

I was wheeled into our newly-refurbished kitchen for the first time in many years, and besides my delight to see our old kitchen transformed into a more modern and sleek design, I felt dwarfed by the walls and cupboards. I was looking up to them whereas before, I was eye level to them.

I could not contain my pleasure for having been able to eat again in the island (more of a peninsula) of our kitchen after many years of being in and out of illness. But the great mercies of God which I have continuously seen at work in my life drive me to that place of being bowed down low, in trials or in victories, and poised to offer a profusion of sincerest thanksgiving.

In times of great joy as what I had felt the moment I sat in our kitchen, there is only remembrance of God’s enduring mercies and unfailing goodness, and words are never enough to thank Him even as I raised my hands in praise and worship. Later on when I was in our room, I knew that the cupboards seemed to have gone higher because I was sitting in my wheelchair, whereas before, many years ago, I stood in the kitchen while I worked.

Sitting low in my wheelchair and feeling dwarfed by the things around me serve as a constant reminder to stay in the place of humility. The Lord spent years teaching me humility. Those trying years saw me really grappling to walk alongside my Savior. He walked beside me, went before me, but always, He held me when I was about to fall and raised me up when I did fall flat on my face. He allowed all that – stumbling, falling, hurting myself, raising me up – so I could learn the important lesson of humility and total dependence on Him (yes, not on my own wisdom and strength), among other things, and be partaker of His holiness (Heb. 12:10).

You see, pride and being “Ms. High and Mighty” could be a “disability”. This could make a cripple out of a follower and the Lord is determined to do away with it. So, this follower was chastened to God’s satisfaction (I hope!) and learned to make my paths straight so that my “lameness” (or disability – pride, self-sufficiency, among other things) was healed (Heb. 12:12). That’s the way I looked at the whole process of learning and healing and becoming whole.

So, I did learn humility – the hard way. Victories sometimes attempt to displace me from my posture of humility and thanksgiving, but remembrance of God’s goodness and tender mercies drive me to earnest repentance and keep me rooted in that place of humility. It is always this:

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Rom. 2:4)

The place of humility is a place of grace.

…be clothed with humility, for

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet. 5:5, emphasis added)

The posture of lowliness is the posture to receive grace upon grace. We received God’s amazing grace that moment when we fell down on our knees and humbled ourselves before Him. And we will receive the grace to illuminate His light and be used for His purposes as long as we stay in this place of humility, for humility precedes honor (Prov. 15:33, 18:12). I think about Mary and her exemplary life of lowliness coupled with quiet strength. This is something a servant of the Lord could emulate.

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My gratitude list ~ things I’m thankful to the Lord for:

7. Being able to eat in the dining table (peninsula) in our kitchen after many years.

8. The Lord Jesus’ faithfulness to draw me closer and remind me of His enduring mercies and goodness.

9. Precious lessons learned in my walk with my Savior-Redeemer.

10. The delights photography – lights, colors, shadows – brings!

11. The love, peace, joy, and unity in the family

12. Home improvements

13. Tidied up and decluttered cabinets – clean house!

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

rina

The Practice of Love

The kids and I gather together this evening. I had been desiring for our family to have a gathering in the evenings to read the Bible, talk about what we have read, each give thanks for the day, then pray. But I know that my beloved husband can’t be easily invited to such. He sings praises, worships and prays every night for more or less two hours. Gathering with the family for the purposes I have mentioned is a thing he’d rather not join. This saddens me but I was determined to start with our two kids.

Hannah and I have been meeting to read the Bible and discuss, but this time, we include soon-to-be five-year-old Tim for he also needs a lot of teaching and praying over.

Lately, I have been thinking deeply on how to honour God more in my life. I felt that there must be something more to all the things that I do, something that is wrought by the Lord in and through me. I know that I lack and I err and I fail to follow through all that He wants me to  be and to do.

So the three of us gather together, forming a small circle (I don’t want any of the Lord’s words to fall to the ground). We talk about love. I point out to them that we are not loving the way the Lord Jesus wants us to. I tell them that sometimes we choose to be impatient, unkind, ungentle to one another. I point to myself. Why do I let myself speak harshly at times and snap rather than pay attention? Why can’t I completely rein in my temper and just be known for my gentleness? Why can’t I stop myself from answering back their dad when I am hurt? Why can’t I just take the pain and keep quiet? Most often, it’s my pride that gets hurt. So then, why can’t I just kill my pride? Didn’t the Lord tell us to pluck out our eye or cut off our hand if these make us sin? To have a meek and quiet spirit is still my earnest prayer.

“If I am not known for my gentleness, what am I known for? What are we known for?” I ask them, voice cracking. Why would you shove your brother to the side? I am looking intently at Hannah. Why can’t we love just like the Lord loves? Tears find their way out.

“We can’t stay like this”, I tell them. But I also tell them that I’m thankful I’m hurt and broken this way, for that means I’m not numb to God and His commandments. For if one has become numb and unmindful of God and what He thinks, one has become barren, spiritually dead. I am thankful for His tuggings at my heart for I know I am fully feeling, knowing, seeing. I am fully awake! The tears flow freely.

And I tell them more, like the Lord’s commandment (well, more like an urgent plea) to His disciples before He was taken to be crucified.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35, emphasis added)

We will be known as the Lord’s disciples by the way we love  one another.

“Can we begin to practise love, really, intentionally practise love everyday starting today? Just like how the Lord loves us?” I ask them. The Lord is not harsh nor unkind nor shoves nor shouts at us. Hannah nods sincerely.

I hold Tim’s face. His still-baby skin feels so soft in my hand. I tell him about loving by showing respect. I tell him what is love and what is not. I explain, I implore, and I am held in awe by how his beautiful eyes grow bigger and rounder. His eyes have opened and rounded to the full and I am amazed at the beauty of the faith of a child. If only we could easily open our eyes that big and round and fix them to Jesus, just like little children do. 

Maybe then we would not miss anything. Maybe then we could practise love everyday, even every moment.

We end with prayer. I pray and reach and cry out to God. I offer up our lives; we are His. For only in His light do our uglinesses vanish and we are changed. And we love Him so, with all our hearts, minds, and souls. Copious tears keep streaming down. We have been touched.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Facing Setbacks {and More on Self-righteousness}

I’ve been noticing that every time I post, this would be shared on Facebook a fair number of times, ever since I joined that social network. I didn’t really know where they were coming from, but it sure made me glad for the more it is shared, the more people are reached. That is, until I wrote this. It was shared only 3 times on FB and received 2 comments so far. I couldn’t really understand it. But the topic was about not being humble enough to receive the true Gospel of salvation and relying on one’s own righteousness.

It was saddening to know readers didn’t like it, but honestly, I don’t regret what I had written. I wasn’t called to write to please people and become popular. I was called to share the truth of the Word, my testimonies and life lessons to people to please God. In this endeavor, I could easily be tempted to take it personally and get hurt, that’s why there are two things that I remember to do: look up and look in. I look unto Jesus who has saved and called me. I am not my own. I’m bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Cor. 7:23). I look to Him for light and wisdom, for direction and — much-needed encouragement. Then, I look deep inside. I search for real motives. I probe and examine what’s in there and correct what needs correction, guided by the Word and the Holy Spirit. That’s how I’m held together.

And, I need to talk further about self-righteousness as one of the reasons why some people do not receive the true Gospel of salvation. It is brought about by lack of knowledge as much as it is pride in the heart. Most of the people I’ve been talking to these past years say that they believe in God and they are not committing a grave sin (then go on to enumerate their self-righteousnesses) and that’s that. It is like saying, “I don’t need to be born of the Spirit because I have not committed any grave sin. I don’t steal. I don’t kill…” Basically, the real reason for this is lack of knowledge of the truth. They cling to the belief that if a person is good (that is, based on the world’s standards), he or she will go to heaven. This is the exact opposite of grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:8)

Cornelius was a God-fearing man and he did many good deeds, but still, he was called by God to hear the Gospel of salvation and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. So also, our unsaved loved ones and friends need to hear this, if only they would listen and receive it, just as Cornelius and his whole household received it and were saved. (See Acts 10).

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23, emphasis added)

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Rom. 5:12, emphasis added)

Until one admits that one is sinful and that he or she needs the Lord Jesus to save him or her – and this is humility – one will not be saved and receive the Holy Spirit, and one will not and cannot live and experience a new life.

I was talking to our new maid (she comes from our hometown and she knew me), sharing with her our story of salvation. Then I mentioned the church we had known while growing up and she said excitedly, “There, anything goes! All kinds of sinners and sinful acts are found there!” Then she laughed robustly. But sadly, what she said is true. This woman knows nothing about the Word, but she knows that what’s being done in that church is far from the teachings of the Lord. There is a lot of brokenness in their midst, yet, their hearts and consciences may have been too hardened to care, let alone feel the pain.

One may attend church religiously all the days of one’s life, yet, never learns the truth, never knows nor experiences the Spirit, and is never truly liberated.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hos. 4:6)

This is truly a deplorable situation, so we continue to pray and not relent.

My gratitude list:

  • My Tim’s healing from his cough that was asthma-like.
  • The Holy Spirit’s guidance: to forget all ugliness (hurtful words, confusion, dismay) and remember only God’s goodness and enduring mercies.
  • For a heart that humbles down and willing to learn and grow.
  • For new mornings, new mercies and new beginnings!
  • For love that hopes, believes and perseveres.
  • An afternoon in the garden photographing the aftermath of a downpour.

The Way to the Manger

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(photo source)

Bible reading: Luke 2: 1-20

The shepherds gather together again tonight on the hill, just like the night before and the one before that, dutifully watching over their flock. The coolness of the night makes them huddle close together as they tell stories to one another to keep the eyelids from drooping. There have been many nights that they have become weary with their work, but it is their only livelihood, and their families depend on them, so night after night they go out to the fields to pasture their flock.

But tonight would be a different one, for the Lord has something huge in store for them: they would be the first to receive the good tidings about the birth of the King! They would be the first to see Him!

(Above is my interpretation of the shepherds’ story).

We ask, where does the glory of God shine? That night that the Messiah was born, the glory of God shone not on the streets of the city, but onto the field where the shepherds worked through the night. The angel who brought the glad tidings did not announce The Birth in the city where the people were, but chose a small cluster of shepherds to break the good news to. The glory of God shone around them!

For God operates in the exact opposite the world operates. The God Incarnate chose to be born in a humble manger covered with hay and chose a few poor shepherds to know and proclaim about His birth, because the love of God wants to show that before honor is humility. That love, really, is not about self, but always about beyond self. That pride in the heart brings low, but humility ushers in grace and lifts up.

The poor shepherds, blessed with humble spirits, received the good tidings joyfully and hurried off to see the King that was born. And they saw Him and they left rejoicing and glorifying God, spreading the great news to the people.

For the way to the manger is the way of humility and obedience. The way to the Savior is to just follow the star – His light.

That was the true Light which, coming into the world, gives light to every man. (John 1:9 NKJV)

The way to the manger is to leave the darkness where we dwell and follow as His light leads us. His light leads us to Himself.

Friend, are you weary from all your labors and sleepless nights? Weary of always trying to do it right on your own and always ending up doing it all wrong? Just as what the shepherds did – leave everything behind and just follow the Lord’s light. It will bring you to Himself and to life.

For the way to the manger is the way to life. And the way to life is really death to self.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:4 NIV)

Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 1: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 1: UNICEF}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 2: What’s in Your Sock? {Part 2: Warm Christmas}
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 3: The Goodness of the Lord
Devotions for a Christ-filled Christmas Day 4: Yes and Amen!

This post is linked to Titus 2sdays, Domestically Divine, Women Living Well, Walk with Him Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Brag on God Friday, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty

Spiritually-minded

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(source: Google images)

The Bible mentions two kinds of minds: the spiritual mind and the carnal mind. {Romans 8}

The carnal mind, that is, the mind that is controlled by the sinful nature (Rom. 8, NLT), need not be the openly worldly kind that we know of: adulterous, lustful, covetous, greedy. But it could operate in the subtlest of ways in which a Christian when not watchful, could nevertheless fall prey of.

The mind that is controlled more by the desires of the flesh and feelings tends to be narrow, shallow, and self-centered. The mind that has acquired the habit of thinking the worst in others, of focusing on others’ weaknesses and blemishes and judging them inwardly, and of being unable to see the good in every person, of accepting, forgiving, and loving them despite of – could easily be the mind of a so-called Christian, if he or she does not examine himself deeply and desire and invite the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The mind that often thinks of itself better than others, too critical and condescending, is proud. Even the mind which easily succumbs to self-pity, thoughts of ill wishes and envy, and feelings of discontent and discouragement brought by these is a mind that tends to sin. This kind of mind holds its owner captive, is unhappy and could not be victorious.

These things could inhabit the heart and mind of a Christian in varying degrees and in many different ways, like when we do things in service to God but secretly expect something in return, or to covertly earn accolade or praise for ourselves – and when we do not see them coming, we get disappointed and hence, we sulk – is not true service at all, but men-pleasing and vainglorious.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice. (James 3:13-16 NIV)

Those that are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things… So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death… For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still in control by their sinful nature can never please God. (Rom. 8:5-8 NLT).

But the one who continues to walk after the Spirit, being careful not to grieve Him but thinks of those things that please God will live in true liberty and will find life and peace.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Rom. 8:14)

Let us be watchful, therefore, to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). And may this reminder from the Apostle Paul fill our minds and be absorbed in the core of our being – wherever we are, whoever we are with, and in whatever situation:

…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phil. 4: 8 )

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*(Photos of Hannah in the Eco Park)

I’d like to share this beautiful song (and video) which I love singing to the Lord. I have included the lyrics below. I pray it will bless you, too.

Pour Your Spirit Out

by Shannon Wexelberg

Lord, I seek You

Help me find You

How I need Your touch

Find my dry and broken places

Thirsty for Your love

Lord, forgive me

If I’ve wandered

Far away from You

You are all I’ve ever needed

Come and make me new

Chorus:

Pour Your Spirit out on me

Fall just like the rain

Saturate my thirsty soul

come and fall afresh on me

Fill my cup again 

Heal my heart and make me whole

I need You now

Pour Your Spirit out.

This post is linked to Time-warp WifeDomestically Divine, Women Living Well, Women in the Word Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Spiritual Sundays

 

Lessons from the Workplace

We make our very first ice cream in our new ice cream maker and I can’t help but be reminded of my second job (my first job was a 2-month stint in a thermoplastics plant) after I graduated from college and took the ChE Licensure Exams (this was over two decades ago :-)). It was a dream job for me – working in the Quality Assurance Department of an ice cream factory. A large food processing company, one where I also had my practicum during college (and where I met my husband), bought a local ice cream brand, and I was one of those who were deployed in the former owner’s plant during the transition period.

Being a newly-grad, I was overflowing with enthusiasm to do my job. The old ice cream plant reeked of technical problems that affected the quality of the product and overall efficiency of production. Because of these, I made several practical innovations in some of the processes, like stabilizing the cooling temperature and shortening the cooling time, etc. I also made improvements in the data monitoring and recording systems, and I discussed and taught these things to whoever was new and assigned in the production line.

I was also overly eager to make reports of all the observations and problems that I and my colleagues encountered, not forgetting to enumerate my recommendations. And thus, I did.

I had to learn at that early stage of my career the heartbreak competition in the workplace brought. Apparently, it wasn’t that easy to perform finely and be well-accepted by everyone at the same time. I learned painfully that it wasn’t only me who had big dreams in the field, and because of that, I encountered the “ugliness” of competition.

When I was in college, I picked up a line in a movie which goes this way: “Competition brings out the worst in the human animal.”

And I do believe that this is true in most cases. And there is also a well-known proverb in our country, one that speaks of “crab mentality”. We know the crabs, that if one of them is trying to climb to the top, another one would promptly come to pull it down.

Controversies, dishonesty, pride, ganging up, hostilities, unfairness… – all these affected me and made me cry. So I quit.

Looking back now, I know that if I were a born-again Christian then, everything would have been different, because I do believe that a life walking closely in the Spirit and guided by the Word of God is a different life altogether.

Well, I am talking about these things now not because I am still active in my profession, for fact is, I have prematurely retired due to my illness and have fully surrendered my life to the Lord. But I thought of sharing these things believing that I might impart some words of wisdom, so to speak, to one who is struggling in the workplace.

Wherever we find ourselves in – whether in relationships, in the community, in the workplace, or in the industry we do business in – it’s really hard to be alone, fully relying on our own strength, abilities, and intellect. But if the Spirit of the Lord is in us, we rely on its wisdom and guidance, and we learn to deal with the challenges that we encounter in our work with grace and courage.

One godly virtue that stands out in my mind now which I believe could change our whole situation in our work is – HUMILITY. If we have learned this and we truly have it in our hearts, we are out of the clutches of pride and competition. A humble spirit can dwell peaceably with any kind of personality.

There are rewards in embracing humility (and keeping the Lord’s commandments overall):

  • Obtain God’s grace

…Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (1 Pet. 5:5)

  •  Gain riches, honor, life

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility. (Prov. 18:12)

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. (Prov. 22:4)

  • Gain leadership and superiority

And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them. (Deut. 28:13)
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Continuing with the giving of thanks and exalting the name of our Shepherd and King – JESUS CHRIST!

I guess we’ve been so enthusiastic with our new ice cream maker that we made another batch – chocolate fudge ice cream. It’s a hit with the whole family :-)!

Ice cream before bedtime? But then again, I’ve been young and now an adult, but I haven’t known any child who doesn’t like ice cream. But more than enjoying ice cream is the love, joy and peace that dwell in our hearts and home, and I thank God everyday for that.
Banana and jackfruit spring rolls. I thank the Lord for strength to do simple tasks such as cooking for family. This is a snack that’s very simple to make but one that the whole family loves. If you’d like to get the recipe, it’s in my Homemaking page. Click here.

I thank the Lord for His Spirit – a constant, comforting Companion.

My little Tim singing Michael W. Smith’s Agnus Dei. Although lisping through the lyrics, he does it fervently.

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise… (Psalm 8:2 NIV1984)

For my blog followers, visitors, readers, and all of your heartwarming comments. I thank the Lord Jesus for the blessed opportunity to minister to you, and I do value the connection and friendship.

For flowers that continue to bloom in the garden. And although they are not in profusion, I still admire their beauty, one that only God could paint perfectly.

Related articles: To Be Christ-like: Meek and Humble; The Dove and the Serpent {To Be Gentle and Wise}

Participating with Multitudes on Mondays at A Holy Experience.

This post is also linked to Titus 2sdays, Domestically Divine, We Are That Family, Women Living Well, Raising Homemakers, Women in the Word Wednesday, Proverbs 31 ThursdaySpiritual Sundays

A Holy Place

(Source: Google images)

God uses the hardships and sufferings in our lives to bring us to a place where we can learn and understand the deep things of life, things that we may never learn any other way. These are the things that break His heart. It is a place where our hearts are ripped open by our own pains, and then we learn to feel deeply for others, too. It is a place where the scales that cover our eyes fall and we begin to really see.

It is a place where we are changed.

It is a place where the Holy One inhabits, where His heartbeat can be heard by ears that were opened. And through our own difficult and painful experiences, He replaces the hard hearts with ones that are made of flesh, and only then that our changed hearts can beat like His. Two hearts beating together as one, loving and showing mercy to all He cares about.

Only then can we become more like Him.

Without His breaking of us through hard and painful trials, we cannot reach that place where we become one with Him. It is a holy place. A place where true wisdom is acquired. A place of knowing Him more, His Word and His will. A place of learning life’s most precious lessons that fortify our faith, help us grow and bear much fruit.

A place where we are stripped of everything that made us proud, and where we can only know of His glory as His presence wraps our humbled, trembling selves.

Yes, He wants to bring us to this place where there is nothing left in us to hold on to, but only His love, His mercy, and His strength. And then, we would know that He is the source of all: our life, our strength, our days. And when we have ceased relying on ourselves, we would learn that He is ALL there is who can make us whole.

This place in His presence is holy. It is where He makes everything new in us: a new heart, a new life.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are past away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor. 5: 17)

This is the place for healing.

Here’s another song that I love singing to the Lord in my private praise and worship time. For me, it is as if the lyrics were written knowing what’s in my heart – they express exactly what’s in there. I sing it as an earnest prayer. I hope that it will bless you, too. (Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer by Keith and Kristyn Getty from the album In Christ Alone).

Related post:

Linking up with Women Living Well, Raising HomemakersSpiritual Sundays, {Titus 2}sDays at Time-warp Wife, Domestically Divine at Far Above Rubies, Brag on God at Beholding Glory